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Jack and the Marketplace

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Jack never noticed that he shrunk as he climbed the beanstalk. Later on, he justified it, saying that the stalk must have shrunk as well, in perfect proportions, so the thinner stalk and his smaller hands always seemed to be the same size. And in truth, that was what happened.

But it meant that the Giant wasn’t quite as tall as Jack had initially thought he was.

This is the day you never hear about in the official records. When Jack had tried to put it down as fact, the archives-keeper had raised an eyebrow and said that if it wasn’t for the unidentified dead man and the indisputable fact of the golden eggs, he wouldn't be recording Jack's story anyway, so would Jack please stay with facts and not embellish things?

Jack had sighed, mentally editing his tale. Editing out the part where the Giantess had said she was going to market and would Jack like to come, as he could hide in the basket and peek out.

Jack would like to come.

He had nearly toppled out of the blanket in shock as they approached the village square. It was a city of giants! Near clear everyone they approached was the size of the Giantess. They stopped in the bakery to buy some bread - loaves of which were bigger than Jack himself - and Jack saw a woman dressed all in black arguing with the baker. She wasn’t getting her way and raised her fist and there was a Bang! Crash! A Lightning Flash! and Jack ducked back under the blanket until they left the bakery again.

The slaughterhouse was where Jack started to get an inkling that things might be different than he had initially thought. Peering at the slabs of meat hanging on the walls, the Giantess ordered bacon from the Straw-House pig and paid extra to get the prime cut of Bo-Peep’s Lamb. Jack blinked as he watched money being handed over. He was slightly disturbed that the man selling the meat was dressed in an extremely convincing wolf costume with a bonnet over the ears.

On the way out, Jack watched a Gingerbread Man step aside to let them go by and realized that the wolf costume might not have been.

This was not his mother’s market.

After a stop at the fishmonger, the Giantess looked in at Jack. Without warning, she reached into the basket, grabbed him round the middle, and tossed him through the air. Jack landed roughly in a box with high walls and a moss carpet. But the furniture was Jack-sized, and with a sigh of relief he threw himself down on the sofa. A slight cough caused him to look up.

A pretty woman was sitting behind a - a receptionist’s desk?! She beckoned Jack closer and smiled.

“Hi,” Jack had said, staring at her.

“Hello,” she had replied, running her finger down a list of names.

“You’re my size.” Jack added, dumbstruck.

The woman chuckled. “That I am. I’m Lina.” She nodded down to the nameplate resting on her desk. Thumbelina Jones , Jack read. He glanced up and for the first time noticed the company name emblazoned on the wall behind Lina - WONDERLAND SIZE ADJUSTMENT CLINIC. “We do have a nice steady flow around this time of year.” She smiled. “You must be Jack. Eleven o’clock?”

“I suppose so.”

“Wonderful!” Lina beamed. “Dr. Tom is through the doors there, he’ll see you in a mo. You new to being small?”

New to being small? Jack shook his head. “No, I’m not small - this is just a Giant’s world.”

Lina laughed. “No, Jack,” she said gently. “But I’l let Dr. Tom fill you in on all of that.”

The phone on Lina’s desk rang and she held up a hand to Jack, picking up the receiver. “Yes?... Oh.... Wait, he isn’t? But - … Yes, I know. Okay. I’ll send him along.... Thank you.” She sighed as she hung up. “Jack?”

“Yes’m?”

“You’re not supposed to be here yet.”

“Sorry?” Jack tilted his head to the right.

“The reader.” Lina jerked her head upwards. “You have unfinished business back at the castle. We’re not supposed to help you here.” She shrugged, a pitying smile on her face.

Jack tried not to act as confused as he felt. “It’s okay. I mean, I guess I’ll just go-”

Lina shook her head even as Jack realized the only door in the room was through Dr. Tom’s office. She reached behind her and slammed her hand on a seemingly innocuous part of wall. Jack’s hands were covering his ears in an instant, trying to block out the piercing tone, trying to ignore the pinch of the Giantess’s - the woman’s? - hand around his middle. The noise stopped as Jack cleared the high walls and he had lay curled up in the bottom of the basket, surrounded by kale and fish and bacon, until they got back to the castle.

The Giantess-Woman had thrown Jack in the oven at her husband’s approach, and the official records pick up there. No mention of Jack’s trip to the market is made, and Jack’s mother soothed her son by telling him that the records only were interested in morals - and there are little morals to be found in a fairy marketplace.