An open mason jar separated mounds of leafy greens from the tubers on a long table at the market. In the jar, a five-dollar bill, folded longways to stand up, shared the space with loose change, like a diva sitting in steerage. My daughter and I studied the offerings. “What’s the difference?” I asked, pointing to the varieties of lettuce.

“That’s butterhead,” said Allie. “I don’t know these.”

“Could you try asking? It’s good practice.”

“Okay,” said Allie. She turned to the woman sitting on a folding chair behind the table, “Excuse me, Ma’am. What types are these?”

The woman stood, put a hand on the jar and looked over. She shrugged, “I’m not the farmer, Honey. Just the farmer’s wife.”

“Does that mean you don’t know?” asked Allie.

“Sweetie, I’m just holding the fort.”

“Is that what the tips are for? Holding the fort?”

“Watch it.”

“Watch what?” asked Allie.

The woman, about to say something else, paused and looked closely at Allie, who looked back unemotionally. Then she turned to me. “Is this your kid? Should I be mad?”

“Thank you for your time,” I said, “It was most helpful.”

As we walked away towards another stand to once again engage with the world as it is, the farmer’s wife removed the jar from the table and sat down.

Brooks C. Mendell writes and works in forestry near Athens, Georgia. His stories have appeared in venues such as Storgy, Spank the Carp, DSF and The RavensPerch.