The Flower Market


The fair was an annual occurrence.

Like most things in Delaware, a member of the du Pont family had founded it. The point was to sell flowers and raise money for charity, and for almost a century the event’s original name, The Flower Market, had stuck. This was despite an influx of midway attractions over the past 50 years twisting the atmosphere into that of a carnival. There were, of course, still roses and chrysanthemums to be bought along the perimeter, but for children, it was now just an excuse to take advantage of the lengthening May daylight and spin themselves dizzy on cheap rides.

In the shadow of Rockford Tower, a mother and daughter walked side by side. A tense distance was growing between them as they passed a row of concessions. It appeared that they would eventually split apart and go their own directions, had a baby stroller not suddenly blocked their path.

“Honey, let’s stop here for a second. Look at this.” The mother pointed to an antique comb for sale on a nearby craft table.

She waited, but got no response. She tried again.

“Honey, look at this, it’s just like the one you had when you were little.”

“That’s disgusting, it probably has lice.” The mother shot a panicked glance at the elderly man working behind the table, but he hadn’t heard.

“What is wrong with you?” She grabbed her daughter by the arm and spoke in a stage whisper. “Can’t you be civil for one afternoon?”

“Did you just say ‘civil?’ Are you, like, ninety years old or something? Who says that? And get off of me.”

“Do you want to leave?”

“Yes, actually.” The young girl pulled free.

“Well, you can’t. We’ve got to pick out a gift for your grandmother.”

“She’s not my grandmother. Why don’t you just call her your mother?”

“Are you really going to start this again? Right here, today?”

Their increasing volume caused the old man to take notice. They lowered their voices.

“You’re not my mom.”

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re actually not.”

“You’ve been in a horrible mood all day, ever since I picked you up. And I’ve had enough of it. We’re going to pick out a gift and get out of here, OK?”

“I just don’t understand why I can’t go to the party tonight.”

“Because you’re fifteen years old and it’s your grandmother’s birthday tonight, that’s why.”

“She’s not my grandmother.”

An exasperated sigh.

Once again, the vendor looked in their direction.

“Can I help you two ladies find anything?”

Mother and daughter quickly declined.

A moment later they were rushing into the open sunlight of the park, moving as far as they could from the crowd. Tinny music emanating from a merry-go-round offered more privacy.

“You are not going to that party tonight with that boy, there is no way. Especially the way you’re acting today.”

“I can do whatever I want.” “No, you can’t.”

“Dad would let me go in a second.” “No, he wouldn’t. And he’s not here. So, when he goes away for work, I’m the one in charge, and I make the rules. And I know for a fact he wouldn’t want you going out when you’re behaving like this.”