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Rated: E · Short Story · Emotional · #1477108
Alone doesn't mean unhappy. My shop has an item for the lonely. Well, sometimes it does.
The bells attached to the front door jingled as a young woman walked into the shop. She was wet from the pouring rain, which did little to hide the fact that she had been crying. She approached the counter as she took in the surroundings.

“Could I please use your restroom? I will purchase something when I come out.”

Her distress was evident, so I let her use the restroom. “Sure, right this way.” I led her to the area where the restroom door was. I stayed close by hoping this was not all an act, and felt guilty when she continued to cry. I walked away.

When she came out a few minutes later, she seemed more collected. I watched her from behind the counter. Browsing through the store, looking longingly at the music box, lifting the lid, it started to play a love song, she shut the lid and put it back.
Then I knew, what must have happened. Being not too far from a nice restaurant, I guessed, she had her heart broken and walked down here.

After a few minutes of browsing, I decided to break the tension. “Welcome to The Shop of Oddities.” I smiled, “Is there anything I can help you with?”

She looked up with tear stains still evident on her cheeks. “Well, I am not sure; I guess I was hoping to find something to help me not be so, lonely.”

That puzzled me; I thought for sure that she had just broken up with someone. “Um, I am not sure? Why don’t you tell me a little bit of what happened and maybe I can help you?”

She moved over towards the counter. “Well, I am sorry, I was just joking.”

At this point, I knew better, I could tell just from looking that she had just let slip what was bothering her. “Are you sure that you're OK?”

She pasted on a sad smile. "It just seems everyone around me has someone. You know what I mean? I feel so alone some times."

“Oh well, I am sure it will be OK. I could suggest a good book from the back that would take your mind right off of the whole thing.” I told her and started to get up from the chair behind the counter.

“No that’s OK, I’ll be fine.” She moved off in the area of the blue glass cups and plates.

That’s when I remembered the rose-colored glass bottle. “You know I have just the thing for you and it's cheap too.”

With her interest up, I went over and took down the rose-colored bottle from the shelf. The label read “Lonely no More”. On the side, there were directions.

A slight smile started to form, the first genuine one she had given in the time she was in the shop. “Ok, I’ll take it.” She reached for the bottle and looked at the label and directions. “I like the glass even if it is a gag. Here is a hundred.”

“Um, yes well, it is not . . .” she cut me off in midstream.

“Five hundred is as high as I can go,” she said reaching into her bag and pulling out four more hundreds.

“WAIT! It is not that much.” I held up my hand and she stopped short of what she was about to say. “It is only one dollar. The previous owner made me promise not to sell it for more than a dollar, and only to the person most in need. You are the only person who has come in here and admitted to being lonely, even if you did not mean to.”

Without another word, she reached in her purse, pulled out a dollar bill, and handed it to me. I rung it up, wrapped it and placed the bottle in the bag.

I knew without a word what was in the bottle. It was a letter. Somehow, that bottle kept appearing in my shop anytime someone came in that needed it. I never knew what was in the letters. I just knew that these people always came back. They were good customers and happy people. That’s the way it should be.
A month passed and I saw someone come in who looked vaguely familiar. “Welcome to the Shop of Oddities.”

She paused and looked up from the left side of the store where she was reaching towards a music box on the top shelf, “Well hello! You know I will never forget the rose-colored bottle. I for the life of me can’t seem to remember where I put it though.”

I could hardly believe this was the same person. “You look great! I am glad the bottle helped.”

Her smile widened, “You know it was all just common sense. I did follow the directions and read the letter. I am sure you know what it says though. Right?””

I must have looked like a blank slate.

She laughed at me. “Well, I’ll be. I really thought you knew the contents.”

“No. I have never really needed it,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“I really don’t remember all of it but if you don’t feel lonely, you really don’t need it. I can tell you though at the time it was exactly what I needed.”

Amazingly, she was holding the same music box that she had so hurriedly put back when it played a love song before. At my look, she held the box up and opened the lid, and began to sing the words to the song. The beauty of her voice is something that I could never relate in mere words. “You have a beautiful voice” was the only thing I could say.

At the complement, her eyes shown and her smile brightened. “Thank you so much. You know, I have to have this music box. I know someone who will love it. Do you mind, if I put it on the counter, while I look around some more?”

I wrapped the music box as she looked. She found and china doll and an old wooden train with wheels that actually rolled on the shelves to the left front of the store. She brought them to the counter. “You know, you have changed my life and I don’t even know your name.”

Somewhat embarrassed by the exchange, I held out my hand, “My name is Hazel.”

“Well Hazel, thank you.” She paid and left smiling.

She has come in on several occasions, always smiling. It has been about two years now and she still has not found that bottle. I think she told me the last time she was here, that she quit looking for it, said something about time being too precious to waist since she really didn’t need the rose-colored bottle anymore.
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