The chimes rang above the shop door. She lifted her head and saw a timid woman peer inside. She couldn’t blame the woman for having a scared and confused look on her face. This was a place for last straws, and the shop looked like it. Her grandfather had collected everything and anything he found interesting and put it on display. Sometimes uptown people came in and requested if they could buy the bizarre sculptures or forgotten books, but her grandfather sold none of them. They were his, and they were here to occupy the space. The genuine customers weren’t here to buy things. They were here to buy peace. And from the look of the darkened bags under the woman’s eyes, she desperately needed that.
She sighed and got up from her stool and lowered down the book she had been reading. “Can I help you?” she asked as softly as she could, knowing well the woman hadn’t seen her or wouldn’t see her if she didn’t want her to.
The woman wearing a five hundred dollar suit and clutching onto an even more expensive briefcase frowned as she saw her. Most likely getting more confused if this was the right place, or it could be that she was wearing overly large cargo pants and a tight tank top that didn’t fit the woman’s image that she sought. Whatever it was, she ignored the eyeful she was getting and asked again, “Can I help you?”
“I…” the woman stuttered.
Yep, she was here for her grandfather. But she would not make it easy for the woman. She would have to say the words aloud if she wanted help.
“Yes?” she offered.
“I got this card.” The woman trusted a small business card in her hand. It was her grandfather’s, professing he can shape lives to meet any desired effect.
“You have to wait. He has another client in.” She handed back the business card.
“Is this real? I mean, I got this from my friend, and he said coming here changed his life. That nothing was the same; that it took one story to…” the woman couldn’t quite finish what she was saying.
“Depends on how you see reality…” she began. She shouldn’t have. The frown between the woman’s eyebrows got deeper, and she wasn’t in the mood to explain how any of this worked.
“Do you want tea while you wait?” She changed the subject.
“I’ll fetch you one.” She interrupted the woman before she could decline. A cup of tea would make a difference. While she wasn’t like her grandfather was, still she could read people, and the woman desperately needed something warm and calming or otherwise, she would storm out with the ten thousand dollars in her briefcase. And while reality was up to debate, money mattered in the one where she and her grandfather had to eat and pay their bills.
She got the woman her tea and sat watching her as she drank it, and the dark circles turned less dark. When she heard her grandfather cough to mark the other client had left through the back door, she got up and led the woman through the shop to the back, where the smell of sage was more pungent. She let the woman past the orange curtains to another room. Before the woman went in, she took the briefcase from her. The woman was about to protest, but she shook her head. And that was it. The woman docilely lowered down to sit on a cushion in front of her grandfather, who nodded to her. She closed the curtains behind them, and took the briefcase, and dropped it next to her stool on top of the other briefcases. She took the book and sat back down, blocking her grandfather’s calming and alluring voice as he told the woman the story of her life, shaping the woman’s consciousness and destiny to her liking. Her grandfather could alter anyone’s life just by telling a right story. Sometimes she wondered what havoc they sowed just because they knew where the cracks in reality were. She faded out of sight and tuned in to the book, and tried to forget what happened in the back room.
Thank you for reading and have a beautiful day ❤
© K.A. Ashcomb
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