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October 2019 Vol. 15 No. 3

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Chris Bays


Mason jars filled with candy sit on top of a hand-hewn oak counter. As I lean closer, I notice the blue candies in one of the jars are molded into different shapes and hues. Some are dark like kernels of blue corn; others are light blue and fragile like starflowers. Combined, when seen from a distance, they remind me of a summer sky.

“Those are all handmade!” A deep voice interrupts my reverie.

I look up – but see no one except a newspaper clipping taped on the far wall. Its headline reads: General Motors Closes Plant in Ohio. After a moment, I look down. Right across the counter from me is the face of a man staring up. Startled, I back up.

“Sorry about that,” he says, “didn’t mean to scare you –just cleaning up.” He rises and plops meaty hands on the counter. He’s built like a sumo wrestler. With a soft voice, which sounds anxious, almost pleading, he explains, “The price is high – but you are getting something special.”

“No worries. I think I’ll have a pound of the blue ones,” I emphasize.

“You know, everything in here is handmade by my wife and me,” he says while weighing the candies. His hands tremble as he bags them. He continues speaking, a bit more shrilly this time, “No robot’s taking this job – at least for a while. Mark my words, young man, those robots will replace us one day.” He hands me the candies.

Caught off guard by his last comment, I can’t find the right words, so I just nod my head and pay him. As I head toward the sun-filled doorway, he calls after me, “Bring friends next time, and I’ll give you a pound for free – your choosing.”

slow dusk
in a shop window
wilting lilies