I perhaps should have listed this story under “A” for “Awkward…”
“What’s so special about it?” Ginny said to the peddler standing outside her opened kitchen window. “What’s so special about this pepper that it warrants three-times the cost?”
The peddler leaned towards her. “My dear lady, this pepper was carefully cultivated by blind monks high up in the mountains. They’ve abstained from speech and worldly possessions, their one goal in life being the upbringing of these rare pepper trees. I have it on good authority that the trees are fed only the purest of rainwater that has been steeped in moonlight. And the berries themselves are lovingly hand-picked and sent here on the wings of castrated doves.”
“Castrated doves? Who on earth castrates doves?”
“Never mind that. What matters is what this pepper can do for your cooking. Have you ever had a soufflé that wouldn’t rise or an aspic that wouldn’t set? Well, those days are behind you once you purchase an envelope of this Amazing Monk’s Pepper!”
“What does pepper have to do with aspic setting?”
“My dear lady, what else? Magic, that’s what!” He threw a fistful of glitter in the air.
Ginny waved the glitter away from her face, frowning as the sparkling motes settled on her newly washed floor. “Magic? Will magic help me clean up this mess?”
“My fine lady, magic will let you accomplish things beyond your dreams!”
“I don’t need anything beyond my dreams. I just need a sensible man to do the fixing-up around here and not muss up my floor.”
“Well then, imagine if you will the droves of sensible men that will flock to your door once your delightful cooking is spiced with my Amazing Monk’s Pepper!” The peddler flashed her a bright smile and shook a small paper envelope, the contents of which rattled inside.
Ginny frowned again. “If you’re any indication of the sensible men headed my way, I’d best do without. My floors couldn’t take the punishment. Good day.” She tried closing the window, but the peddler put his hand against it and kept it open.
Ginny tightened her jaw and put her weight against the window, but the peddler did the same and so they stood there, both pushing against the pane of glass with neither one accomplishing anything at all. Then, slowly, Ginny made headway and the window started to shut.
The peddler, growing red in the face, tried slipping the envelope through the narrowing crack, but then the window slammed shut and he was left standing there, his body slightly distorted through the thick and cloudy glass. He lingered a moment, and Ginny glared at him. Then, clearing his throat, he finally moved on.