The crowd moves like a living creature. I push back against the sea of jumpsuits and strain to get a look at the market center. This is taking too long. We should be next to the stalls by now and I don’t have time for this. It’s always crowded at the market, but this is ridiculous. Ahead there is the hum and rustle of voices but for some reason we’re not moving forward. I stretch my legs to see what’s happening. We all get the same foodstuffs and products anyway. What’s the point in fighting over it? I can’t see past Dad— he has a good six inches on me, and I’m tall at six feet— so I watch his face as he turns to the direction of the sounds. Maybe the foodstuffs haven’t reached the market.
His eyes get wide and he takes a step back, treading on the foot of a Builder. The Builder holds Dad by the elbow to steady him. Dad leans over as if he’s going to tell me something, but he’s quiet. I get the feeling he is ducking out of sight. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up. He squeezes me on the shoulder and I wince.
I shake my arm out of his grasp. “We need to go home,” he whispers next to my ear and looks in the other direction.
“What is it Dad?” I ask. I elbow him and expect him to laugh because this doesn’t make any sense, but he’s not laughing. “We just got here.” He crouches a little more, making his height disappear.
I let him pull me from the market onto a side lane, not paying attention to my surroundings. We are weaving through paths hemmed in by adobe buildings, back toward our place, when I stop him. “Tell me what this is about.”
Dad stops and turns toward me, motioning down the lane. “Not now, Nile. We should go home.”
He squeezes his eyes closed for a split second, and then looks over at me. “Do you trust me?”
I cast my eyes away before nodding, my voice monotone, matching his. Always matching his. “Yes.” I want to add barely.