About Emma Bushman:
Emma Bushmann is a hybrid-genre writer based in Queens, New York. She is currently an MFA candidate in fiction at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writing House at New York University, where she is working on a book of short fiction.
My father took me every Sunday to the farmer’s market. The vendors crowded M street: a patchwork of early spring vegetables: broccoli, cabbage heads, lettuce, onion sets, peas, radishes.
When I was younger, my father would carry me. Little creation, good daughter, he would say to me, and I folded, small and fetal, into his chest. The buttons of his dress shirt imprinted onto my cheek. Later, my father told me, Put your feet down, child.
I had reached what I considered a middle age: twelve. We walked M street together, my father and I, and he didn’t tell me what he was thinking.
Sweet birches bent for us, strung a shadowed path to where the butter-white sidewalk emerged out of the grass. This meant we were close to town. The shop windows straddled M street with sweatshirts, and ballcaps, and shot glasses, all pressed with images of the town and its famous rock beaches, the village pond, cartoon and bibbed families eating lobster together.
Put your feet down, Olga, my father said. Don’t drag.
I did as I was told. The market was busy for spring. Someone was wearing a backpack, which meant they were not local. This relieved me. Summer was coming and soon, I figured, everywhere would be heavy with tourists again.
At the market, my father exchanged two dollars and fifty cents for a pound of snap peas, which I held close to my belly until we found a bench overlooking the village pond. The fountain at the center was electric, vibrated quietly. We snapped our peas together, returning the empty shells to the bag. We listened to the very small sounds the ducks made, cleaning crumbs of stale bread from the surface of the pond with their famous beaks.
While fishing for a snap pea, I mistook a shell for something plump. When I pulled back my arm to throw it into the pond, my father wrapped his fingers around my wrist.
Imagine a duck choking on that, he said to me.
My father was famous, just at the ducks were famous for their hungriness, their home in the village pond, except my father was famous beyond the town. Everyone read his books, so I was told.
My father pulled at his famous moustache, combed it down with his famous nail so that it was slicker and parted over his famous mouth. He scratched his famous head with his famous finger.
For the rest of the day, I was given to Miss Babette, the nanny, and she walked with me in the fields behind our house, which had just come up with purple and yellow violets, a few lilies, lupines, which Miss Babette said were her favorites, and a couple columbines here and there. My father had locked himself in his study, which was the attic. He liked to feel rustic. I imagined him watching Miss Babette and I from the small attic window, how we studied the house from the edge of the woods.
Miss Babette had been a girl in France. She told me this often, explained the plots of her life. Every day, we would walk together. Miss Babette never wore jeans, only plain dresses that exposed the curve of her calf. She wore her eyes low on her face, behind an enormous curtain of hair, which I thought was greying, but was maybe just blonde worn out. Everyone told me hair changes as you age – blondes go grey, some heads shed, curls loosen and fall. Sometimes, I was so desperate to touch Miss Babette’s hair, bury my finger inside of it – maybe even yank on the loose strands.