By Kathryn Halkema
Susan needed a present for her step-daughter, but she didn’t know why she had picked this shop. It seemed to have appeared overnight. Inside, it had the features of a good secondhand bookshop: Towers of pulp fiction paperbacks, their covers dog-eared and torn, and the comforting smell of old books rotting in their jackets. The owner looked up and flashed her a toothy grin. His canines were long and sharp and gave him a wolfish look.
“Can I help you?”
“My step-daughter is going to be graduating soon. I need to buy her something.”
The shop owner got up, stretched, then scratched the back of his ears. “Anything in particular?”
Susan smiled. “Maybe something to spark her wanderlust? I would like her to leave the house.”
The owner gave a knowing wink. “Of course, follow me.”
He led her through a maze of shelves and then stopped at a door.
He paused before unlocking it. “I reserve this room for my most special customers.”
Susan squinted in the dull light, taking in the marvel before her. The room was jammed with antiques. She looked at each piece: an old spinning wheel, a single glass slipper, a coat made of red velvet. She stopped before a large mirror, its silver frame tarnished black. It felt so familiar, like a memory from long ago.
“A fine piece,” the shop owner said. “Nothing some polish couldn’t fix. Maybe your step-daughter would like it?”
She thought of her step-daughter, with her pale skin, black hair and red lips. She was beautiful and popular, but manipulative. She controlled those around her with fear. She would hate this shop—it was too old. Susan turned to the owner.
“I’m sorry. She wouldn’t appreciate anything in this room.”
“Something for you, then.” He pulled a book down from the shelf. “Maybe this recipe book?”
Susan took the book. It felt comforting in her hands. She flicked through the pages, stopping at one near the end. She looked up, and smiled at the owner.
“I think I will buy it. The recipe for apple pie looks like something my step-daughter might just love.”