It ‘s difficult maneuvering the pickup but the lady in the next space helps Diane back in. “Thanks honey,” Diane calls. The woman, dark haired, in a tight tee shirt, says “No problemo.” Diane flips down the mirror, puts on lipstick, and looks over at her son Mark. “Keep an eye on your sister.” Cindy’s asleep, her head leaning on the arm rest.
Mark’s bike is the first thing out. “How much on that?” a man asks. Diane thinks for a moment, “Thirty bucks.” The man pushes the bike back and forth. “Okay,” Mark hears the fender rubbing as the bike rolls away. “That’s good luck,” the lady next door says. “First sale.” Her name is Rita; she sells here every weekend. Diane is in a good mood now. She unzips her jacket. Underneath is a tank top with skinny straps.
Cindy, still yawning, arranges her possessions on a blanket. Rows of dolls and stuffed animals sit propped against each other. She stands behind them with her stomach shoved out, ready to do business. Diane and Mark unload the dresser and that sells fast too. Diane gives Mark five dollars. “This is it for the day,” she warns. Mark and Cindy take off towards the snack area.
“Hey baby,” Diane calls out when Mark and Cindy return, “I sold some of your Barbies.” Diane and Rita are sitting on lawn chairs talking to two guys in denim jackets. Cindy half-smiles, “Which Barbies?” she asks. “The ones that are missing,” Rita bursts out and this makes them all laugh, even Diane, even the two men. Mark looks at his little sister. He thinks she might cry.
By 2 o’clock, the swap meet has slowed down. Mark sits on the truck’s tailgate. Diane’s counted the money three times. Diane is telling Rita about moving. “What a huge hassle,” Diane sighs. Rita nods, “Been there. Done that.” Diane says, “Neighbors bought the TV.” Then she lists other things: clothes, jewelry. Mark can feel her ticking things off in her head, letting them go.
“Well look whose back,” Rita says loudly. It’s the two guys in denim jackets. Diane lights a cigarette, “Bring us anything good?” Diane tells Mark that they’re going to Rita’s place for a while. Mark figures the denim guys are coming over too. “Can I ride in the back?” he asks. Diane peers into his face. “Stay low.”
Mark climbs into the bed and lays down on the tarp. As they pull out of the parking lot, he feels like he is in a different world, away from everyone else. He puts his hands behind his head and looks up at the sky. Clouds and the tops of trees fly by. He can read some of the signs passing overhead. It gets windier in the back as they gain speed. He sits up and lets the wind press against him. He watches as some loose papers blow past him, stick to the tailgate, and then tear free.
Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash