The shop is filled with a faint scent of old books, honeysuckle, and leather. I take a deep breath as I make myself comfortable in the spot behind the register and pull out my knitting. The days I work here are often quiet, and I like to knit while I sort out my thoughts.
I love this place. It’s as though time is different here. Neither slower nor faster than usual, but just not in such a pressing hurry. Time that lets you breathe as it marches on. I think it’s because this place is so old it has learned to be patient and not a busybody like everywhere else. It has its own cares to deal with.
It’s fifteen past the hour, and I hear the time marked by our tall grandfather’s clock. He is so set in his spot on the floor, between a bookshelf and a saddle-rack, that I wonder what would happen if someone tried to buy him. He may be too old to be moved at this point, becoming as much a part of the store as the windows and floor. Filling the silent hours with his chimes every hour, half-hour, and quarter-past.
Sometimes I like to wander through the store a bit, though never too far from the register. I can’t afford to get lost when I’m working, and I’m not completely sure there’s an end to this place. There are times I wonder what the back wall looks like, and what sort of treasures I’d find there. I always ask customers if they made it to the back. So far, no one has seen it.
One of these days, I’ll come in on a day off and be the first.
The bells at the door are ringing, announcing the first customers of the day. A trio of older ladies walk in, and I smile. They wave when they see me, before disappearing into the store. I’m sure they’ve told me their real names at some point, but in my mind, they are Sugar, Spice, and Nice. They come in about every other month, and theirs are always the best finds. Last time they found a chest of keys, a stack of old fairy tale books, a teacup, and a beautiful music box.
I think the store loves them.
Though I can’t wait to see what they’ll end up with today, I know it won’t be for hours. One of these days, they won’t be back by closing time and I’ll have to go on a search and rescue mission. If anyone finds the end to this store before me, it would be them. They have a knack for searching, and it makes me wonder if they’ve ever found what they look for, or if they simply make do with other things instead.
My knitting takes shape under my fingers as the store creaks and groans, trying to settle. It’s been trying for years. I reach out and pat the countertop in sympathy. This place is has too many old things full of memories for it to settle properly. It does what it can.
We all do.