The Shopkeeper – final part

Shopkeeper Final Part

They sit next to each other on the couch. The only light is from the kitchen and the moon. There is a faint tang of Sharizad’s sickness hanging somewhere in the room.

“Carry on with the story,” she says. The sides of their bodies are touching.

“It’s finished,” he says. “There isn’t any more.”

“There is more,” she says. “He will come into the shop again tomorrow afternoon, or the day after, and what will you do?”

“What can I do?” he says.

“He knows that you have been thinking about him,” she says. She looks around the room, into the corner shadows, as if she might have summoned something.

“How can he know that?” he says, leaning forward and turning to look at her.

“He’s sensitive,” she says, and shrugs. “That’s all.”

He looks disappointed.

“People drink,” she says, “because they feel everything.”

“How do you know why people drink?” he says.

She doesn’t respond. He doesn’t look away, though, and she finally meets his gaze without moving her head, raises her eyebrows and gives a slight shrug. His eyes roam all over her face, as if he’s appraising her. Then he sits back, but not touching her this time, and together they go on looking ahead, through the window, at the moonlit sky.

She can hear people laughing in another apartment. She doesn’t want to listen to any more stories, and decides that she will sit quietly for five minutes, and then she’ll go back into the kitchen, turn the radio on, and wash the dishes. But she can’t see the clock from where she’s sitting, and she wonders what five minutes feels like.

© Barry Lee Thompson and ‘Stories, by Barry Lee Thompson’, 2013.

9 thoughts on “The Shopkeeper – final part

      1. Beautiful poignant ending, Barry. For a moment I thought maybe SHE knew about drinking . . . I hadn’t thought that before.


  1. I love her wondering what 5 minutes feels like. Terrific Barry – Sunday nights are beginning to have a routine. A bit like listening to a radio serial back in the day…


    1. There used to be a late-night story slot on the radio, maybe about ten minutes long. Short stories. I loved it, but it’d spook me out a little bit, because of the tone of the reader’s voice. And the strange intimacy, I suppose, of having a stranger talk to you when you’re alone in your bedroom – it was unnerving, sometimes. Nevertheless, I looked forward to it.


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