I can see from my corner shop that once again the other storefronts were remaining shuttered for the day. Unfazed, I unlock my door and plug in a dangling power cord. The open sign pops a few times then buzzes red. The shelves of my neurosis flash in out of its hazy glow.

Hisses escape several cracks on the pleather chair behind the counter as I spin to select a book from my collection. After a few hours, I’m cresting the familiar beat of the midpoint when the door chimes in a customer. I lift my eyes just above the page line to watch him wander idly through the crammed aisles of my grade school years.

“How much for this?” He gestures toward my inability to sleep in the dark.

“A dollar.” I go back to my book.

“And these?” He holds up some commitment issues.

“Everything’s. A. Dollar.” I tap the sign hanging from the counter.

He shakes his head, wandering around the corner into my teens.

As soon as he is out of sight my chest begins to squeeze. Five minutes pass, then ten. I drum my fingers on the counter, pick at some left-behind tape on the register. After fifteen minutes I spring from my chair to investigate. I find him rummaging through my unsent apology texts.

“I’m sorry I have to close.”

He lifts his eyebrow at his watch.

“Ok…I’ll buy this.” My need to constantly affirm people’s friendship dangles from his careless hands. I can tell he won’t protect it, treat it jealously as I have done.

“No. Not for sale.”

“But it…”

“We’re closed!” I snap.

At the door I watch him until he enters his car and squeals out of the otherwise empty parking lot. Back behind the counter my heartbeat returns to its steady pace.

The dust resumes its settling.

***

Tiffany Belieu just beginning her foray into fiction. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Meow Meow Pow Pow, Collective Unrest, The Cabinet of Heed and Okay Donkey among others. She loves tea and cats and can be found @tiffobot on Twitter.