Sunbeams flicker like fireflies though glass stained with paint. Paint pulled from the earth and pounded and mauled into paste. Water, dirty water, from the brown river mixes with it into a soup. The soup has lumpy vegetables, which stick to the sides and the bottom and hide. Simmering it gently with rocking arms and a stick makes it perfect, light, translucent, coloured.
The best taste it, the soup they have mined and mashed and swirled. They know the secret of creation, it is not creation but discovery, the choice of the matter not the maker, what to become. They see it for the living things it was, the living things it will portray, they see the life hidden under colour.
The worst let it sit by the window, growing filmy with the sun and impatient for death. They force their ideals onto it and it lumps and sticks.
The best know to paint when it calls them from the dark floor, the dirt and dead flies cushioning it in dormancy.
The worst pick it from the windowsill and stir it and swish it and force it to make something.
The best take their brush like a sword, like a feather, and carve. The paint guides them.
Then both take a basket of rushes and the best weaves a new basket but the worst uses an old basket. They pack the painted glass, the best swaddles and ties each one, but the worst slots them between lunch and a stool.
The best sets up their stall away from the others, in the shade.
The worst sets it up right in the centre, blocking a passage.
The best waits, but the worst shouts.
You might think justice goes to the best, who has laboured and packed and sits in the shade.
But the worst shouts and people listen.
The sun cracks the paint on the glass, but it gets in the eyes of people buying so they don't notice.
Soon the worst is eating lunch on the stool. Almost all the glass is gone.
A woman and her child pass by the stall of the best. The child gazes up at the glass. The sun makes a kaleidoscope over her face.
She reaches out to touch one...
But her mother has seen the stall of the worst and already he is getting up from his stool and smiling.
The image is from here.