Good evening /x/. I've come to you tonight with a short story. I had posted this story on New Year's but the low traffic more or less killed the thread. I received some great feedback, and I got to entertain the majority of people that were kind enough to stop by and read. All i ask is for your time, and for you to read. Sit back, and enjoy a short tale of the quaint town of Harrowview. As before I will be bumping with pictures of spoopy forests.
As the wind swirled and the sparse amount of freshly fallen snow danced about the barren streets of Harrowview, the shops began to flip their signs to â??closedâ? for the evening. The turning of locks could be heard echoing from the empty sidewalks. The last rays of sunlight started to dissipate on the horizon through the layers of leafless trees around the short brick walls on the main road, and Harrowview was not a town you would wish to be about when the Moon's light graced the cobbled streets of this old colonial style market.
There was only one store that shone its dim light upon the roads of Harrowview during the â??closing hour.â? Oldrich's Antiques. A misleading name as they had modern items as well, but they did possess and sell a majority of aged wares.
The definition of a ghost town would regularly be fitting of this radiant trading post near the edge of the ocean, but on this rare occasion, an occurrence. Oddly enough the town of just a few thousand sustained and breathed the life into these strips of businesses somehow, but tonight, a lost young woman would fatefully stumble upon the beautiful collection of buildings.
As Marian locked her car door and slowly eased it shut, she glanced up into the empty streets and dead lights of the Harrowview market. What a peculiar time for such a elegant place to be desolate of life, she thought to herself. A look down and the hands on her small watch read 4:57. Looking up she saw the darkness of night was rolling upon the town from the ocean to the east, and the Sun shining no more in the opposite direction. Traveling North to see her family for the holidays, this did not seem like the optimal place to be lost. With no immediate sign of human presence, Marian decided to search for help. Her gaze became fixed upon the dim brown light of a shop at the end of the plaza. She decided to try there.
As Marian's steps echoed off of the brick and mortar â??shoppesâ?, the lightly gusting crisp winter air waltzed around her, carrying the sound off as she made her way to the end of the plaza. Each business along her route appeared devoid of presence. However through the dim lighting, twice she caught the glimpse of what she presumed to be the store owners disappearing into the back of their store through curtains hung in the threshold. She didnâ??t understand why these places were closed so close to the holidays. No bother to her, she just refocused her gaze forward to the light of building ahead of her, just half a block away now.
She swore she saw another person walking across the worn paved street. No one would dress so fancily during the cold of December. She let out a sigh, and realized it was merely an outfit in the window. She pulled her jacket up and shivered a bit as the wind lapped at her face again.
Turning to her left she grasped the door handle of â??Oldrich's Antiquesâ? as she read the name aloud. A firm tug was needed to get the door open, but she managed to jostle it ajar, and the cling of a tiny antique copper bell, and the face of a worn bearded man turning to look upon her from behind the counter was her greeting.
The look of intrigue upon the man was palpable as she turned toward the counter just a few feet ahead of her, while closing the heavy glass door.
â??Evening miss, I donâ??t believe I have seen you in Harrowview beforeâ? the man graveled out in an airy grizzled voice.
â??Oh no, no, noâ? she chuckled out quickly. â??I was heading back up North for the holiday, and am trying to get back en route there, but I lost signal to...â? her voice abruptly cut out by the old mans short grizzled laughter.
â??Yep. I figured that's why you stopped on inâ? he proclaimed as he ran his hand over his beard as if he were trying to straighten it
â??You'd be surprised how often we get lost folks on these old roads of ours. Besides the shops, ain't much to this little bite of a town.â? Marian listened as she was shaking off the cold that blew through her before entering.
â??Pardon my interruption miss, it's just a little concerning seeing you in here is all. We donâ??t ever get passers by during this time of day, all the shops close down when the sun sets for the hourâ? Oldrich's voice dropping off near the end of the sentence.
â??Oh, I'm sorry if I startled you.â? she said as she began to notice the array of things in the aged store.
â??I am looking to get home, but do you mind if I take a look around for a bit? This store just looks full of hidden gems.â?
â??Miss, I would be a fool to turn down business, that's why I keep the oil burning when the others close.â?
Marian slowly walked the dusty aisles, looking each shelf up and down. Old tin coffee cans, busted stuffed bears, broken toys. Junk.
â??So why do the others close at sundown? Religious thing?â? she prodded.
â??Well. You see. Well. Kind of.â? the old man stammered.
Next aisle, typewriter, time card punch machine, rotary telephone. She was fixed upon that telephone, it was a thing of beauty. Mint green. Great condition. No one wants that for Christmas though. She was sure she could find something in here for her mother.
â??It's an old tradition, there was a weird illness came round these parts way far back. Not to date myself but even before I was put on this Earth. A pretty good number of folks left us too early story says. Heck even the mayor's daughter Marguerite passedâ? the old man shook his head slowly.
Last aisle. A worn light green trunk with a broken latch. She undid the flimsy clamp to reveal a velveteen interior smelling of lily, an ornate hand mirror, a photograph of a woman, and two old dresses. She left the top agape, as she moved down the line. A glass elephant...
â??Oh!â? She half gasped out in excitement.
â??How much for the three china plates? My mother has a matching set of these from her grandmother, and I would love to get them to use at our family dinner. It's just me my father and her this year. My brother isâ? her voice disappeared to the man's ears as he figured a price.
The old man pondered a bit. Staring off into nothingness. Maybe still telling the tale of Harrowview in his head.
â??I reckon I could drop that from my shelves for...$80, its been here too long, no body else has ever been interested in em. Maybe that color. Maybe that pattern. No clue.â?
Long before the old man finished his thoughts, she had vigorously started dusting off the soon to be gifts, and was carrying them gingerly to the register.
She carefully set the dishes down on the front counter, and old man Oldrich looked down upon the antique things. In the small vanity mirror he had set up on the front counter, he could see the lost woman's smile and his company's logo on the door behind her.
â??Does my heart good to see that I can still get rid of this stuff and make people happyâ? he said with a grin.
â??Alright then miss, we're looking at $80 even. Johnny Law and Mr. State don't ask too much, so I ain't gonna gig ya for tax like the other guys around here would.â?
Marian sifted through her large coat pockets, not remembering which contained her pocketbook, eventually pulling forth a purple floral pouch, with a golden latch.
As Marian clicked the wallet open she asked â??Do you have some sort of newspaper and box or something I could wrap this in to keep it safe?â?
Oldrich pondered for a bit, â??Well I do have an empty cardboard box here, but I donâ??t have any newspapers or fabric that I can think of.â?
Marian thought on her feet. â??How about I just give you this full $100 and I take one of the dresses in that green trunk and your box?â? She figured this would work given the relatively low price he let the plates go for.
Oldrich swirled her statement in his head for a moment. â??Do what now?â?
â??The green trunkâ? she said, motioning toward it. â??A dress from that. There's two in there with a mirror and a photograph.â?
The old man looked puzzled. â??Well I didn't even know I had a trunk over there so, sure why not.â?
Marian smiled and thanked the man. She handed him his payment and retrieved a faded bluish dress from its container. Shutting it back the fragrance of lilies hung about the air for a bit, as the lost woman carefully folded the plates into the box, weaved into the old dress. As she was retrieving her last item, the old fellow started to draw up a route back to the main road from a piece of scrap paper in his pocket.
As Oldrich handed her a crudely drawn map Marian's she noticed an elegant clock she somehow missed on the wall. Oldrich made a comment about how it had been busted for years, but it had the right time twice a day. Marian looked down at her watch and let out a small laugh, and agreed. She bid farewell to the stranger, and The old man watched Marian walk off toward her car safely, the wind slowly whipping up swirls of snow all the while. He figured he would start getting ready for â??realâ? business again the other shops would be opening soon, so he started toward the back when the tiny antique bell rung at his door again.
â??Good evening sir, may I look upon your wares per chance?â? a clear feminine voice called to him.
Not looking back Oldrich gave a simple nod, and said yes. Not that the woman could see him. He continued to the back to deposit the large bill from the previous sale in his rusted out safe, and take a sip of his favorite brandy before returning to the store front. When he peaked his head around the corner, the woman was standing at the counter.
â??Sir?â? the voice called to him. â??I believe I have made my selection, I must be departing shortly.â?
A floral scent filled the air as the old man addressed the young woman â??Well my arenâ??t you looking beautiful this evening young lady? What is it that piques your fancy today?â?
Oldrich looked down upon the floor on the other side of the counter, and his gaze was fixed upon a marvelous dark green trunk.
â??Another young woman just came in here eying the things in that box, lucky that you could nab it.â?
â??Oh dear, yes it is then. How much for them? For the two dresses, and a magnificent hand mirror?â? the young woman asked.
The old man looked down at the trunk again, the vanity mirror catching his eye. A clear view of his glass door and store front reflected to him.
Taking a breath and closing his eyes for a brief second he said â??Well...I.â? Oldrich stopped.
The old man let out a sigh.
He walked around the counter and with his shaking hands saw the rest Harrowview lighting up for the night, as he locked his door and flipped the switch â??offâ? on the wall.
That is all for now, that is how this story ends. There will be more to come and the back stories of this town and its history. We have around 50 stories that need to be written, this is just to test the waters to see if there is interest in the writing style and subject matter.
The chest was Marguerite's, and all the belongings in it were hers, searching it roused her spirit. At the end when the shop owner looked down, it was the green chest, but it was in the condition it was purchased in. When he gazed down into the mirror on his counter, he saw no reflection of the well dressed woman.
If you have to ask questions it isn't your fault it's my job as the story teller to tell the story better. I haven't really written in close to 2 years, I'm slowly becoming reacquainted again.
wow man I really love the style of the story as well as the setting. The end of this particular story doesn't seem to make much sense (like the old man flipping the "off" switch? isn't there a lady shopping still) but regardless I would love to see you develop the town of Harrowview, and /x/ is in desperate need of good OC.
8/10, refreshingly original would read more.