I realized as soon as I got into the cafe that I had forgotten my book in my car. Although I had an eReader application on my smartphone, I was still a sucker for the traditional paperback. I had noticed a few weeks ago that there was a secondhand shop opening in the old jewelry store about two blocks from the coffee shop. I was pretty sure that they would be open by now, so I figured I would take a walk down there and see what it was all about.
As I walked past the store’s window, I noticed the name of the shop was Ariana’s Attic. I really liked the way the store name had been painted on the window and I almost missed the Help Wanted sign as I turned the doorknob to go in. I really should apply for the job, I thought as I walked through the door, that would get my mom off my back. Well, at least about one thing. That reminded me that I was supposed to be in class. I looked at my watch and decided that there was no way I was going to make it in twenty minutes anyway, so I might as well not bother.
The overhead lights were off when I walked into the store, I’m not sure how I didn’t notice that when I was looking in window. There were white Christmas lights strewn everywhere and the combination of that and the menagerie of items in the store gave it a kind of mystic look.
“Hello? Are you open? I saw the sign in the window….”
I started to walk in a little bit further, hoping that if the store was closed that I wasn’t about to get arrested for trespassing. Or B&E. That’s all I needed. A record.
I jumped when I saw a puff of white hair appear above the counter.
“I’ll be right with you, dear. I’m just trying to figure out this breaker box. I’m afraid I didn’t quite know the limit to how many plugs I could have plugged in.”
The lights turned back on and I heard the whurring sound of electronic devices coming back to life.
“Much better, what can I do for you?”
“I, uh, saw…..”
“The toaster over there? It’s a beauty! Makes six slices of toast at once! Never seen such a thing, I swear. The lady that turned it in said it was possessed, but I haven’t really had trouble with it…”
“No, I was wondering about-”
“How about a blender? Do you need a blender? I have one right over here. Or maybe you need something to spice up the bedroom…. I have some items over here that would help, straight out of that Fifty Shades of Gravy book, I know you kids are reading that these days. Don’t you worry, I’m not shy about that kind of thing. I was thinking about putting in an Adult’s only section, but I don’t know how popular second hand Adult items would be….”
I saw her pause for a moment and I jumped in, “I need a job, I saw the sign. The one in the window?”
“Oh, why didn’t you say so? Come over here and I’ll ask you some questions.” She pointed to a pair of rocking chairs nestled in the corner.
“Would you like some tea? I just brewed a fresh pot. I think it was the electric brewer that shorted the fuse… Earl Grey. Oh, that was the books name! Fifty Shades of Grey! Why in the world would I have thought it was gravy, I must be getting senile in my old age….”
“I would love some tea, thank you” I started to sit down in the white rocker, and didn’t even realize that I almost sat on a white cat. The cat hissed and jumped off, obviously annoyed that I almost squished it.
“Don’t mind Ezzy. She’s not a fan of new people. Dear me. I don’t think I’ve introduced myself, I am Ariana, the owner of Ariana’s treasures. and you are….?”
“Nina. Antonina Allastair. I live on the other side of the island.” I couldn’t help but smile at this woman. She was small with glasses and a mop of curly white hair. Just the type you would assume would be someone’s grandmother. Actually, something about her reminded me of my Grandma Bella, but it definitely wasn’t her looks. Grandma Bella was always well put together, her hair dyed and her nails done. When she was younger, she had dark brown hair and smoky gray eyes. I was often told that I looked just like her, even though unlike her, I am a walking mess. My life is basically one disaster after another. My car is always breaking down, I am always losing jobs or failing my classes. Basically failing at life in general. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can make work. Even my friendship with Timothy is falling apart.
“There there honey, don’t you worry, things will work out between you two.”
“How did you know what I was thinking?”
I knew I had zoned out, but I really didn’t think that I had said my thoughts out loud. Ariana must have seen me look at her strangely, because she put her tea down on the natural wood stool next to her and picked up a notebook that I hadn’t even noticed she had.
“Now, Antonina, what would you say is your favorite cake?”
“Huh? My favorite cake? Uh… Carrot cake I guess. With cream cheese frosting. No raisins though, I hate raisins.”
She scribbled on her notepad and then moved on to her next question.
“How would you say you feel about cats? Would you say you’re a cat person?”
“No, I mean, yeah. I don’t really know, I like them from afar, but my dad was allergic, so we were never allowed to have one. Don’t you want to know about my work experience?”
“Let me do things, my way, dearie. When you own a shop, then you can decide what questions need to be asked. Who do you think would win a fight? A vampire or a werewolf”
“I guess it would depend on when they each had last fed?”
“Ah, good answer. Each gets their strength from the life force on which they feed. A hungry demon is a weak demon.”
She scribbled some more on her notebook.
“Can you start today? I could really use some help in the back room. I have so much I need priced.”