Alice

Strings of pearls, gold thread sewn into silks, waistcoats and eyeglasses and powders and drums and little finches. This was the life of a merchant. I had my list written out by Sir David Nook. He was the owner of Nooks Emporium. Some months I helped him buy and cart goods to his store, other times I was his top salesman.

‘Mr Jamerson, ten pounds, five pounds for the barrel,’ yelled Hank who always tried, but failed to make a sale with me. Rumour was that his wife had disappeared and none quite knew where she went. She was last seen having an argument with Hank and to my knowledge, he had been consumed by the drink ever since.

The planks of the pier had a gap that I stepped over as I made my way past Hank’s shop. I walked a few shops ahead and even past a sign that said, “Welcome to Frankinford Prominade.”

I was used to this town off Hintleborough. I had been coming here since I was a boy and as far as I could tell, there was always a strange few men or two. Almost no one was quite right here and next to everyone had a past. Trade however had been all the better for it, as dazzling oddity’s were brought down from each shipment. The panning ocean was our state of the art transport system. It was boundless with riches almost in every direction. I had already lost a friend a few to those idea’s that planted dreams in the hearts of men.

I thought upon this until I saw her, in the exact spot I saw her last.

There she was, her cheeks the colour of the softest rose from the cold. Her hair was wild with curls of gold and her eyes lit blue as the sea. She stood within a store of spun glass. A slight breeze caused them to clink together. I thought her eyes might have met mine but I wasn’t certain. The glass hung from the merchants tent and gleamed all colours, spotting her skin rainbow. Her eyes widened at me but it had been caused from the men whom stood behind me.

‘You won’t allow one pound sir?’ I spun around as I heard the promise of a threat and saw spit flying from a vicious tongue.

As it was, I was already too late. A scuffle came about. My employer had this man in a headlock. The red-faced man struggled hard to break free from his grasp. When he had done so, his fist flew and landed. Sinking deep within Mr Nook’s face. It took four men to pry them off each other and by then, the girl who had come almost like a dream, was gone. Folks began to cry out and scream on the other side of the pier.

I soon learnt it was not in regards to us but to something they had seen. We were ushered to come forward and look out to where they pointed. People rushed to leave their stores to see what it could be. As I stood where they gathered at the railing of the pier I saw it. A washed up body, and if I were not mistaken, it was Hank’s wife. She lay lifeless, seaweed interlocked in her hair, her arms flailed out. Her body, very, very pale.

I couldn’t look away.

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