The sign out front said “Closing! Everything Must Go!” It brought people in like nothing else ever did.
Vultures, Tama thought, but, like vultures, they served a purpose. They picked the last otherwise-useless things off the bones, for one, leaving a nice, tidy skeleton. Nature’s disposal system.
“Excuse me? Excuse me, miss, this Hunnel statue. It’s a fake, you know, right?”
“I sell curios and curiosities, trinkets and treasures.” It was late in the evening, and Tama’s spiel was sounding rough around the edges. “I do not verify anything.”
“It’s just that this price…”
“Everything in the store is seventy-five percent off. That little statue is…” She peered at the ancient tag. Miss or not, the light was low and the day was old. “Five-fifty.”
“But twenty-two dollars is too much for a fake Hunnel, miss.”
Tama let her accent thicken. “Is not twenty-two dollars. It is five-fifty.” She flapped a hand around the store. “Everything is seventy-five percent off. Five-fifty.”
The woman held up the statue woefully. “It’s the last thing left in the store, except the table it was sitting on. And twenty-two is too much.”
“Sell it for eleven on e-bay.” Tama had bargained and argued and fussed all week. Now, she was ready to be done. “Statue and the little table, ten seventy-five.”
The table, unlike the Hunnel, was a genuine antique. The woman salivated. “Nine.”
“That’s not how you’re supposed to do that!”
“Okay, okay, here.” The woman counted out eleven dollars. “There.” She paused, as if the act of buying had broken some spell on her. Maybe it had. “This store has been here as long as I can remember. What will you do, now that it’s gone?”
Tama looked around the empty store. Bones, now, picked clean. “I’ll move on.”
“It’s like it’s the end of an era.”
She closed the cash register on the last eleven dollars. “It is. And now I can start a new one.”
She locked the door behind her last customer, her last customer ever. The end of an era, indeed. With that outworld Hunnel (and the sapient pearwood table) safely out of her hands, she could move on, see the worlds. Do something with her life.
She thought, this time, she’d try to travel light.
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