Standing on the station, fifteen light years from Earth, I breathe in the sweet yet spicy smells of herbs from Brusallis, a planet in the Marikini star system. The eli eli, a species of fluorescent floating flower from Kwakno, catch my eye as they float in bunches at a neighbouring stall. Being in the market makes me feel as if I am at the centre of the universe. I am far from home, but I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to do business in such a vibrant and wonderful place.
I had applied on a whim. When Earth signed on to the Interplanetary Alliance Economic Agreement, it was mostly big commodities companies that had grasped the opportunity. Yet, the agreement gave access to anyone on the planet to apply for a licence to trade at the Interplanetary Wholesale Market at the Hofadaka Space Station. For years no small earth companies applied. Twelve light years seemed a long way to go to make a sale. My application was the first that they had received from Earth in the three years since we joined. They accepted it immediately and sent a starship to help transport me and my goods.
I look at my stall. Beautiful bubas, flowing agbadas and more, all handmade in Nigeria and exported across the galaxy. Some of my customers don’t even have legs or arms, but they are excited to own their very own piece of Earth fashion. In addition to making money, I’m teaching people from hundreds of planets about Earth’s cultures. I’m learning too; languages that you speak without words, recipes that take several weeks to cook. So many cultures, so many customs. So many goods for sale, so many things to experience. A mound with feelers dangling down floats over to me. My first customer of the day.