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“…I was going to buy that skirt…” Abigail complained.
“No, you weren’t. You would hem and haw about the price and in the end you would’ve left with nothing.” Liv patted her on the shoulder. “We could go into the bookstore there, or we could go to that place that looks like it’s selling herbs and spices?”
“Herbs and spices first. Once we get in a bookstore, we’re going to be there ‘till it’s time for your mom to pick us up.”
Liv giggled. “Like that one time, when she came in to get us…”
“Or that time she had the store page us.
“Or that time she texted us bits of War and Peace until we came out on our own… Yeah. The herb and spice place first.”
The place in question had rows and rows of jars in one window; the other one was so full of plants that you couldn’t see into the store at all. There was no sign, but there was a young person with long black hair standing in the doorway.
“All the fine things in the world, all the best tastes and best sensations. Come in, I’ll give you a free sample to take home. Come on in.”
They were dressed, this shop-keeper, in four layers of clashing batik, flowing pants and tunic and vest and something between an apron and a skirt. They gestured Abigail and Liv into their shop, which smelled of a medley of herbal aromas that somehow didn’t quite clash. “You seem like you’re new to our little neck of the woods. If that’s so, here.” They handed Liv a circular wooden box, small enough to fit in the palm of her hand. “That’s just a little something for when you’ve got the doldrums or the dum-dums, that is, life or some idiot are getting you down. because, as they say, non illegitimus carborundum.”
“Don’t…” Liv stared at them. “Let the outlaws make you carbide?”
“Close enough! All right, here’s your free samples! Ginger candy! Because ginger is a spice, you see.” The strips of yellow were coated in sugar. “Careful, they have a bite. Now. What brings you here?”
Something about them put Abigail’s back up. “A door.”
“…And a bully,” Liv pointed out.
“Aah! Well, those are a good start. That’s a place for a story to begin, isn’t it? Once, two young girls fled a bully through a door in the back of the mall. There, they found…
“Strange and wondrous places!” Liv put in. “…but no fauns.”
“Ah, but as the faun was working for the Winter Witch, perhaps not who you want to find, mm? Perhaps a beaver instead?”
Abigail had pocketed her candy, but Liv was chewing on hers. “Wow, this is… Wait, what?”
“Well, obviously not literally. But let me show you a place you might have missed.”
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