Fiction Fragment Friday

            “OOH!”  Jen was squealing in glee as she dug through the box of jewelry.  It seemed like each new piece somehow managed to excite her more than the last.  I personally didn’t understand it, but had long ago learned not to get between her and her “shinies” at an estate sale.  A man could get himself hurt doing that.  Since I had no interest in jewelry or having my eardrums blown out by high pitched squealing, I decided it might be best to wonder into another room. 

At first her energetic rifling through other people junk had been cute.  That was five yard sales, two estate sales, and six hours ago.  My only consolation was that it was 3pm and nothing else would be open.  I had assumed that this estate sale would already be over when I agreed to one last stop, but I was just not that lucky.  There were so many better ways I could spend a Saturday.

I walked into the house’s library and started glancing through the books.  It was a large room with one wall lined by bookshelves.  There was a fireplace opposite the bookshelves, and two old chairs with holes worn into the upholstery sat facing it.  A coffee table held a few stacks of books, but it was the rows and rows of them on the bookshelves that caught my attention.   

Having been dragged to far too many of these events I had learned what to expect.  Estate sales would have mostly religious or children’s books.  Self help and cooking also seemed to be common place.  If I was actually lucky enough to find something science fiction there was no way I would know the author.  The best I could hope for would be an interesting compilation.  There was nothing else worth looking at in the house though so I figured with a library this big I should at least give it a try. 

I was so focused on the bookshelf that I didn’t see the power cord for the vacuum cleaner stretching across the floor until I had already tripped on it.  My arms flew up to try and break the fall, but I was spinning and landed hard on my shoulder.  It throbbed and I moaned in pain a bit until something caught my eye.  There was a book lying under the largest bookshelf.  Overcome by curiosity I couldn’t help but reach out to grab it. 

I blew the dust off the book and immediately started choking on it.  The book had been under there for a long time.  As the dust cleared I looked at the graphic on the cover.  It was an oval with a spiraling circle inside it.  “Well that doesn’t really tell me what you are about now does it?”  Flipping the book open I couldn’t tell what language it was in, but it was not English.  Since I couldn’t read it I tossed it onto the bookshelf.  “Well I guess today was a complete bust.”

“No way, today was awesome.”  Jen had finished with the jewelry and was standing in the door.  She had three necklaces and a ring in her hand.  “These are the best way to finish the day off.”  She smiled at me.  “I’ll even let you be a gentleman and buy ones of these for your loving girlfriend.”

I sighed a bit and pulled out my wallet.  “How short are you?”

“I just need $5 to get them all.”  I handed her the money and she kissed my cheek.  “You’re the best even if you are grumpy.”  She smiled at me and walked towards the living room where they had the money table setup. 

I rubbed my sore shoulder.  “Atleast someone’s happy.”  As I said it I saw a tiny little statue of a dog.  It had a marble in its mouth with a swirling design.  I couldn’t quite make out what breed it was supposed to be, but it looked very wolf like.  The tail twisted back around to make a loop and I realized that it would be the perfect size for putting on my keychain.  I grabbed the statue and headed for the living room.    

Jen had already finished paying by the time I got to the table.  She gave me another kiss on the cheek.  “Thanks again hon.” She held out a necklace with a very ornate key on the end of it.  The thing was jewel encrusted and I thought it looked pretty gaudy.  “I know jewelry isn’t your thing, but I got this for you.  I’m giving you the key to my heart.”  She reached up and put the necklace on me.  I thought about protesting, but she looked so happy that I didn’t want to disappoint her.  “Do you like it?”

“Oh course I do.”  I hoped that she couldn’t tell that I was lying through my teeth.  If she could she didn’t show any sign of it.

“What’s that book?”

I looked down into my hands and found that I was holding the book that was not in English and the tiny dog statue was sitting right on the swirling symbol.  I struggled to remember when I picked the book back up, but there didn’t seem to be any time I could have done it.  I just stared at the book.

“Andy are you ok?”

“Yeah hon.  I just, I don’t remember picking this book up.”  I rubbed my eyes.  “Maybe I’m just a bit tired.”

“Well hurry up and check out so we can get you back home.  I need you all rested up so we can go out tonight and show off all my new jewelry.”

I sighed thinking about how much I would rather just stay in and watch a movie instead of meeting our friends for a trip to the casino.  When I turned to the table to pay I let out a loud gasp.  An elderly woman I hadn’t seen approach was standing in front of the table about a foot away from me.  She started speaking in a raspy voice.  “Are you sure that is the book you want?  There are some lovely cook books back there.”  She looked deep into my eyes and I wasn’t quite sure what to say.  “No, I think this is the book for you after all, oh and I always loved that little statue.”   She limped her way back around to the other side of the table and had a seat.  “Three fifty.”

I felt like I was in autopilot as I pulled out my wallet and handed her my money.  I don’t even remember walking back to the car.  The next thing I was clearly aware of was that Jen had just asked me a question and I had no idea what it was.  This was not a good sign and my mind went into overdrive trying to figure out how to handle the situation.  If I didn’t give a good answer I knew that the drive home was going to be very unpleasant.  I had to think fast.  “I don’t know what do you think hon?”

Apparently that was an acceptable answer because she started talking about dinner options.  When I got in the car she turned to me in a very poor imitation of the old woman said, “I think this is the book for you after all.”  She burst out laughing and I couldn’t help but give a bit of a chuckle myself.  “That has to be the creepiest thing I have ever heard at an estate sale and I was hit on by a pervy old guy once.  Hey maybe she was flirting with you.  I just can’t take you anywhere can I?”

She continued to talk about absolutely nothing the entire way home.  I found myself wondering how a depressed introvert like me ended up with someone as peppy as her.  As I pulled into the apartment parking lot I had to ask myself what kept two so completely different people together?  As I looked at her and saw just how happy the morning had made her and I couldn’t help but smile back.  “I love you,” I said.

“Well that certainly came out of nowhere, but I love you too.”  She gave me a quizzical look, but if she had something she wanted to ask she decided to keep it to herself.