Photo of lemons in a crate at a market stall for a flash fiction story on observing strangers
Photo by Erol Ahmed

After 35 years at the market, I can pick the state of relationships.

On the happy end of the spectrum, couples purchase their produce, smile and keep moving, hand in hand.

Then there are those showing signs of a rift, impatient eye rolls as their other half asks after the provenance of the lemons.


Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tale #15.




48 thoughts on “Provenance

    1. My first thought is- he’s hungry. For a full relationship assessment, I need to know your reaction to his desire to purchase everything in store haha. I have this issue too- I eat before shopping (well, cause I’m always snacking- it’s likely I will have just snacked) and I go with a shopping list. My partner on the other hand shops an isle at a time and browses to decide what to get with no thought about the kind of meals we will make out of the stuff. I wonder where that puts us?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Recognise his annoying traits, but still happily married- that tells me it is all good 🙂 Just pack snacks for any joint shopping trips and you’ll be able remain happily ever after 🙂


      2. Haha well, maybe to consume on the trip there. One of the supermarkets I go to with my son have free fruit at the store entrance for children. It is a great idea. He eats a banana (or 2 haha) while I wheel him around in a trolley. Maybe they should consider grown men too?


  1. It just means you are more organised, and he is less so, maybe? I usually just buy milk. Then hours later I realise I am hungry and have to go back for food as well, but can never find anything that looks like something I want to eat. What does that make me?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I never thought this would end up being a life/relationship advice column haha. Hmmm- what does that make you- I think perhaps someone who puts food way way down on priorities and gets nourishment from other areas of life 🙂 I know that feeling though- that point of hunger where it seems nothing will fix it- it’s like falling over the edge of the hunger/taste threshold at which point even a chocolate cake with a side of creme will not be quite right.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. haha I’m fairly anal in my shopping habits. I will think of dishes or scan recipes, decide what to cook and then put together a shopping list and pretty much always put blue berries, yoghurt and banana on the list then go…the only deviations, which are never officially captured in my list but somehow make it into the trolley are salt chips (crisps) and chocolate. My lists are normally on memo in my phone and I do sometimes look and amuse myself trying to remember what I made or why I had a need for an unusual ingredient. Okay, so try to unravel THAT! 🙂


    1. Yeah, interesting you pick that duality. My train of thought had been initially thinking of lemons/lemonade and then immediately went on to relationships and after a day or so, this came to me- but it was only after reading it that I saw a layer in the ‘provenance of lemons’ that I hadn’t consciously been thinking of at the time of writing. I was being quite literal. Okay, well please feel free to provide your assessment of the volunteers who have shared their shopping approaches and asked what it all means 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Yvette (or is it ‘C’?). I did a bit of stalking of your about page comments to arrive at that haha. I like that you included the tangerine? or persimmon? in your emoji’s. It is such a great photo isn’t it? I wonder if the photographer gets a notification of all the links? Would be cool if he sees the stories it has inspired.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi – you are right, I am the Y – and thanks for checking out my blog!
        and it would be cool for the photographer to see the stories unfold – I actually thought about joining in on this one – and I have seen a few of the entires unfold – but I might have to pass this time –
        oh and think it was an orange! ha!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. So do you and your husband (a guess?) both blog on there? I checked out other pics by that photographer- one word AMAZING. I think he is some kind of designer. His artistic eye is definately evident. Ah, an orange? Maybe I just wished it was a persimmon. 🙂


      4. Well it might be a persimmon – you might know better than me – and seeing it is emoji land – I say it is a persimmon especially for writers – ha!
        And no – just me on the blog – but the hubs and I just had an anniversary and so I sometimes change the about page photo – thanks for asking!
        And glad to cross blog paths – peace

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting that you’ve put your finger on the strange zone between customer and vendor. It’s a relationship that brings disparate people into a situation where they have to get reasonably intimate, smiling, being polite (or not) handing over cash, exchanging a few words. You can give a lot of yourself away in a few instants.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, there are so many clues to pick up. It’s a little awkward to be the service provider at times I think. I also wonder how people are not aware of the micro-tensions they reveal when trying to disguise it with polite and friendly chatter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I always think there’s an ambiguity in the customer/vendor arrangement. Is the vendor your friend, or someone who’s going to try and rip you off? Is the customer someone you have to be nice to, or on the defensive with? In the dancing around, we give things about ourselves away.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Why do I love this post so much? I think it’s the brevity and the characterization. Sometimes, we writers think we have to load up on descriptive words, when really, so much is said with so little.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. a wonderful riff off the photograph. As the comments with Jane express, it expresses that mysterious realm of intimacy where we tend not to think it exists. The ending is splendid for me because I am still pondering the origins of lemons, how one person is inspired to ponder such matters while his or her partner cannot see the relevance or attraction to such ponderings…capturing the infamous “we have grown apart” too many couples know about.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Having lived in Portland I would say this is not too far off from reality. No offense to people who live in Portland, but it exactly this kind of thing that made it easy for me to leave for a job offer somewhere else far away Notice how in all their compassionate questions they didn’t ask questions such as “How was the chicken actually killed? What method was used? Did they break its neck?” We’re all hypocrites to one degree or another, a part of human nature (whatever that is), but there are who are more than pretentious, they are self-righteous, using such things as their caring about “how many acres” the chicken had growing up as a way to make them superior to others.

        The “provenance of oranges” can be seen, I suppose now having watched this video, like a copy of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” on the coffee table. Is it there because it was a deeply moving novel, one that resonated with and altered the reader’s sense of self and the world, or is it placed there in order to impress any guests who might see it, placed there to say “see how more intellectual and refined I am from the philistines who are watching rubbage on their t.v.” (and maybe actually he or she hasn’t even read the novel, or only the first third before it became tiresome to him or her).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So funny. You made some good points there about hypocrisy. Some people display a very superficial concern for the world around them. Must take more energy to curate that pretence than to actually show the empathy and compassion for real. I’ve never read Ulysses. I always confuse the story with a one eyed monster and then remind myself that is cyclops. Ulysses is something about a whale and Atlantis? I wonder what the digital equivalent is of a book placed casually on a coffee table? Good reads list? subtle Instagram pic showing just enough of a book in the shot? haha

        Liked by 1 person

      3. There is the Ulysses (also known as Odysseus) from the Homer’s work “Odyssey” composed around 8th century BC, describing Ulysses return home after the fall of Troy. James Joyce wrote a novel “Odyssey” published in 1922.* I haven’t read it yet (always meaning to some day). It is considered one of the greatest novels of modern times, and also the most difficult to read. It is closer to a poem in novel form (or what might be called a prose poem). [The whale is from the novel “Moby Dick”]

        A great question regarding the digital equivalent. One could have an avatar of just the cover of James Joyce’s “Odyssey” – that way everyone would know just how deep one was. 😉

        *The details were from Wikipedia, I didn’t just yank them from my memory banks.

        Liked by 1 person

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