You must be desperate or something, because you haven’t looted in ages, and your fingers tremble when your eyes fall on the wall of spices, the second biggest you’ve seen (the first you witnessed when your mother dragged you by the wrist to another Saskatchewan farmer’s market, the Big River Market, three hundred kilometres from where you stand now) and you are mesmerized by the pale carmine chilli and the gamboge curry, the staples of your craft; of course, in a town as small as Porcupine Plain, there are eyes that follow you, know you by reputation, so you move from the wall of spices out into the world (you still have a baggie of nicked onion powder in your glove box, next to the weed), but you are stopped in the parkade by a woman, mid-fifties, with smudged eyeliner and a too-large tank-top who blocks your path and stares you down as tears streak her cheeks, and she begs you to do her a favour, whimpers, “My son-in-law … he’s hurt,” so you follow her back to her blue sedan and see not a child like you imagined (caught on the word “son”) but a man of maybe thirty passed out in the passenger seat, and the woman eyes your sleeve of prison-gained tattoos with expectance so you rattle the door handle, but it’s locked, and behind you she sobs so you look at her and wait until she says, “He’s been drugged,” then shakes a breath from her lungs, “I drugged him,” she finishes (ah, so expected criminal empathy is why she cornered you), and you think of the turmeric in the aisle, the forbidden tangy nip of the dust, and you ask why, though you’ve never had a good answer to that member of the 5 Ws family yourself, but “I love him,” falls out of her mouth like too-hot makhani eaten with impatience: it slops to the pavement and you are uncomfortable to watch, so you look at the man and the dribble of drool that pools on the strap of the seatbelt, and you can hear music from the stereo — Jethro Tull’s forty-four minute “Thick as a Brick”: one song, one album, no full-stop — and the man in the car inhales and you exhale and the breeze dies, and the woman begs you again to get him out, but you’ll need a coat hanger, which you tell her before you tread back towards the market where you remember a young woman who sold tie-dyed t-shirts, but on your way you pass the spices, and your fingers wrap smooth along the glass of golden curry powder, the thrill in your blood returned — tonight you’ll craft kashmiri lamb and potatoes, or tikka masala and palak paneer — and the man in the car will wake to the tune of a rock ’n’ roll flute and a mother-in-law in crisis and you will be far, far away.



Kaitlin Ruether is an MFA candidate at the University of Guelph in Toronto and a graduate of the University of Victoria’s Creative Writing Program. Her work has appeared in New Limestone Review, Freefall Magazine, and This Side of West.