The store was wedged between two buildings. As if in a cartoon, the walls lay at odd angles, red brush strokes coating every inch of the weathered cement, and the ‘Yesterday’s New’ sign was legible despite the peeling paint. The roof was thatched a dark beige, creating a rural ambience that startlingly contrasted the monotonous city streets, flooded with identical replicas of mindless castaways, moving at an equal pace. The store’s window was lined with carefully placed antique objects, gleaming and dustless, as if cleaned compulsively, and the inside shone with the golden glow of translucent lamps.
When the boy forced the door to smack against the door chimes, he was met by the soft hum of jazz music and the characteristic aroma of pine wood and coffee grain. The salespeople swiftly moved to stand perfectly still, at a measured distance apart, and stared at him with rehearsed, shallow smiles on their features. Their eyes were tunnels, empty and expressionless in the perfect establishment, and their uniforms were a polished, pearly white. His eyes circled around the room, glistening with wonder, discovery, and all life the others lacked.
Upon first step, leather boot against hardwood floor, he was aware that the shop was a minefield for the clumsy. Antique figures were placed in a strategic way so that a jerk of a limb could send them toppling down like domino pieces. The male’s eyes flickered to the neon letters plastered on the wall: “Nice to look, nice to hold, but if you break it, consider it sold”. Their plastic smiles didn’t fade.
The foreigner tiptoed past crowded shelves, eyeing their contents and dodging glass traps, aware of the piercing stares of both workers and portraits of people from centuries past. His steps were firm and audible in the soundless shop. His breaths fanned out slowly. The salespeople didn’t move a muscle.
He delicately picked up a porcelain teacup, admiring the thin lines that took the form of a rose on it’s side, and was struck with the sigh of his mother’s kettle. He was absorbed in the familiar smell of Japanese tea, in the warm feeling that engulfed him when he took a sip of the delicious yet rare treat.
Time was frozen, as if someone’d pushed the pause button and the boy was the only creature capable of movement. The boy turned around, breathless and incredulous, and was slapped with the lost presence of the users of the items before him– He saw women swiftly brushing their cascading, Victorian locks and men from western movies leaning over the counter, chewing tobacco with unamused expressions. He was floating in an endless loop where there was no measure of time, space or existence.