It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you. Tell us what happens next!
“Oh crap!” I muttered under my breath. It’s not the store that I was expecting. I probably would enjoy a cup of coffee on the nearby coffee shop.
“What a rainy morning, isn’t it?” Someone appeared from the shelves of dusty books and magazines. He’s an old man who’s a bit taller than me. Well, older than me I guess, about 30 to 40 years of age.
“Uh. Yes sir. Kinda rainy.” I don’t have the time to chitchat. I don’t exactly know what we would be talking about.
“I’ve got some vintage umbrellas here. You might need one,” he said, pointing to a rack full of fancy, old, and DUSTY umbrellas.
“No thanks! I guess they’re too fancy to be exposed to that harsh rain. Isn’t it?” I said, trying to paint a smile on my face. When I looked at the glass wall, I could see the sarcasm that the statement indicated.
I was shocked when I heard his laughter. What is he laughing about? I didn’t say anything funny. Annoying probably.
“You can stay here until the rain subsides. You’re free to see all my collections – books, magazines, home furniture, and dresses. You’ll definitely love them.” And he returned at the cashier, reading a book entitled Tess of d’Urbervilles.
“Can I bother you for a minute, sir?” I came near to him, examining the cover of the book. It was like the one I saw on the Internet; the 1982 version of the book.
“Sure. Fan of Thomas Hardy?” he asked, all enthusiastic with his beaming smile. “Oh, where are my manners? Come and sit here.”
I’m like a little girl who was being scolded since I immediately sat on the chair he was offering. My amazement, I guess, made him so eager to explain more things about the book.
“I’ve been looking for that book for years, Sir! I could’ve found what my Mom wants if I crashed in your store years ago.” The sound of sadness covered my statement, and I can feel the wetness of my round brown eyes. Oh how I miss my mom.
“This book just came to my store last year. I’ve read lots of reviews on the Internet, few blogs FYI, but I just started reading it last week. It’s a nice novel, isn’t it?” He continued to scan the pages, like he was just checking the damages on each paper. I could see some stains, a few tears, but the text are well-printed.
“The story was fabulous,” I answered, imitating the words from my Mom.
“Indeed. Actually, I also have a collection of classical novels in here. If you’d want to check out that aisle,” he pointed at a shelf near the pile of umbrellas, “you can see a copy of Pride and Prejudice, Don Quixote, The Great Gatsby, Robinson Crusoe, A Tale of Two Cities, To Kill a Mockingbird, and many more. You love classical novels, milady?”
Clearing my throat, I muttered. “My mom loves them. She always ask for a copy of her favorite books, Tess of d’Urbervilles was one, when she was still with me. Unfortunately, she’s gone now.”
He didn’t say anything else after my statement. I can feel the water that runs through my cheeks. How I miss my mom. I miss the times that she calls my name, tells me the story about Tess, and how she loved her character.
I miss you mom.
After few minutes of my dramatic moment, he offered me a box of Kleenex. “I’m so sorry. She just died about a few months ago, sir. I’m still grieving, yah know.”
That look in his face assured me that everything’s alright. “No worries, little lady. You might be given the chance to reminisce the memories of you mom in this dusty place. I’m glad you’ve been very open to me.”
“I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t stayed too long.”
I started to compose myself and prepare to leave when my eyes darted back to the copy of the Tess of d’Urbervilles.
“You want this?” he asked.
“I’ll buy that book when you’re done reading it. Save some of your classical novels, sir. I’ll be back to buy some of them. For now, I have to get back to work.” I smiled at him sweetly, give him a nod, and waved goodbye.
“I’ll wait for your return, milady.” He closed the door as I walked out. And I noticed the sun shine so bright again. The pavement is as dry as ever, and no signs of the heavy rain.
I guess my mom directed me into a very special sanctuary. Hah!
work of fiction
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