Eternal Antiques

Danny wanted to buy a nice present for Sophie. They’d been dating for three months; there had been some bumps but overall their relationship was progressing well. Because they’d first met at Lucerne’s Botanical Garden, Sophie told people it was “blossoming”.

He was strapped for cash; what could he get her? She liked cooking, maybe some pots and pans. The good ones in the hardware store cost $200 per pan. Who pays those prices? Someone must. He’d noticed that her boots were tatty; she would appreciate a new pair. He went to the general store to find similar ones; they were also $200. Maybe something special to celebrate their relationship? The best bottle of fizz in town? It was $200.

“Isn’t there anything cheaper?” he asked the cashier.

“Sure there is, pal. We’ve got beer at two dollars a can.”

On his way home, Danny noticed that the thrift store’s For Sale sign had been replaced by a new sign saying Eternal Antiques. He’d never seen any staff the few times he’d visited, just piles and shadows and an honesty box; no wonder it went broke. The “new” place may be worth a visit. He wandered in.

There was a good selection of books, clothes, games and sports equipment. Downstairs were house wares and cookware. Danny rummaged around but didn’t find anything special. On his way out he heard faint music and followed it to a room, reached by pushing through a rail of coats and dresses.

Suddenly the music seemed loud and dramatic – bassoons and drums, like elephants trumpeting and running. “Hello,” said a woman from amongst deep shadows. “I’m Sybil, the new owner.”

“Oh, hello, I’m Danny. It’s quite the shop you’ve got here. Did you have it renovated?” He realized this was a silly question. Yes, there was a new sign outside, but only more old stuff inside, including all the stuff the previous owner hadn’t sold in years.

“No, why would I?” she said. “My business is preservation.”

Danny saw she kept the better stuff in the office. There was rose-patterned bone china, cracked old paintings, ancient books, and objects that could be obscure cutlery or implements of torture. “Can you help me please? I want to find something for my fia…” He realized that she was only his fiancée in his mind. “For my girlfriend.”

“Close your eyes,” said Sybil.

“Why should I do that?”

“Because that’s the best way to find anything.” Her eyes smiled.

“Okay, they’re closed,” said Danny, holding the corner of the desk for support. “Now what?”

“Spin around and point to something.” He did so. “Good, that’s it.”

Danny opened his eyes and saw a fat, blue, dusty bottle. He said, “What is it?”

“It’s a potion for young lovers. That will be a dollar please.”

“What’s in it though? I can’t just take a random medicine.”

“You’re right. You can’t.” Sybil removed a small, framed painting from the wall and handed it to Danny. It was a radiant Christ with sacred heart. The heart had wings on either side and a crucifix above; light poured from it in all directions. “The potion has intention, and the painting has love. They work together to make heavenly magic. People today don’t like the word religious, or the idea of God. They prefer to say they are spiritual and chant OM. But it’s all the same old stuff. Intention and love. Wish for what you want young man, but there is one downside that I didn’t mention.”

Danny became scared. Was he meddling with dark forces?

“The painting is two dollars. So that’s three bucks total.”

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