He was excited and terrified at the same time. What if the market had shrunk? What if the vendors there were no longer familiar faces? It had been ten years. Old faces were liable to have vanished by now. These questions twisted around in his head unrelentingly. He stilled the tremble in his hand as he came up around the corner. The bristling acrid taste of smoking fish and mutton hung heavily in the air. Memories flooded his senses and it was all he could do to still the constriction of his heart. Fearchar came up to his side and peered up at him. “Ya ‘lright, Weard?”
Eoin nodded, It’s the first time I’ve seen the market in a long time. He signed without thinking.
“Ye’ should dance up’a Dunvegan come Hogmanay,” Fearchar offered. Eoin blinked at the man, not entirely sure what he was going on about. Then it clicked. My words look like I’m dancing? He asked.
“Commeon, Weard. Le’s get us some sausage. Then Ah’ll introduce ye ta the lass,” Fearchar started into the market.
The stalls were just as much of a mess as he had remembered. It was not as bright and full as the markets he was used to now, but it reflected his heritage perfectly. Clouds were rolling in, threatening a right downpour. Fearchar was heading for a stall and an old woman that Eoin recognized. Beatrice. She had always had the best smoked fish. Now though she had introduced something else – pork sausage. Pig had not been overwhelmingly popular on the Isle when he had left it. It was just too hard to keep, but with her stocks, raising the finicky creatures must have become easier.
Eoin let Fearchar take over for ordering. Sometimes it was a fight to be understood. “Fear! ‘ow’s the wife?” The woman smiled, showing a range of missing teeth. Her face had sunken in significantly since Eoin had last seen her. Her skin was sallow and liver marked. She still had her old brown dress on. It had been mended many times since he had last seen her. It hung from her in folds. She had lost weight and her hair had thinned significantly. It hurt, seeing someone wasting away, and knowing that she was at a point that he could do nothing for her. He knew, just in that one glance, that she would not see the spring following Hogmanay. She would be lucky to make the festival.
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