It was cold when we walked into the shop. December in New Orleans. Of course it would be.
Her eyes shined like the Christmas lights we’d traveled for hundreds of miles to avoid, trying to consume every piece of visual candy. The masks and dolls stared at us, tempting us with charms for our loved ones and curses for those we loved no more.
She was Daddy Warbucks; each doll, Orphan Annie. Who would get to go home with her, blessing her household? She already had beauty, intellect, and personality, but a smart gambler always hedges her bets.
Incense and jewelry provided relief from pain and sexual prowess. Velvet bags filled with mysterious herbs promised good fortune. We shopped, seduced and drunk on the scent of magic emanating from the back room.
The two dolls she chose offered bliss and happiness and good health and wellness. Surprisingly light given the weight of their promises, I carried them gingerly. One tight squeeze was all it would take to crush dreams, crumbling twigs and paper into dust.
“I’ll be back. I want a reading from the back.” I held her happiness between two fingers and her health between two more as she vanished from sight. Ten minutes or an hour passed – impossible to tell – and the incense began to make me feel woozy. The shop grew smaller.
She emerged before I had to escape into the cold, taking all of her hope with me. “Can we go home?” her wan face and tired eyes told me enough of the story. Her hand slipped into mine as we exited, and I held it gingerly, lest she crumble as well.
She’s gone now, their promises left brittle and shattered. I’ll give them one more chance.
This is part of a series in which I will attempt to write something every single day of 2016. Will I be able to do it? You’ll only know if you subscribe using the form below!