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The Shack: Gifts and Apparel

by Kendra Marya about a month ago in Short Story / Love / Excerpt
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The Shack: Gifts and Apparel
Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Today, at work – I work at ‘The Shack: Gifts and Apparel’ in Anchorage - I was arranging a new display in the window. Teddy, our taxidermy beaver, was getting a fresh fair isle sweater and matching beanie that I finished knitting just last night to wear, when a man entered the store.

Tracy, my coworker, chirped, “Hello! Is there anything I can help you find?” from behind the counter. The man nodded, “Yes I was actually wondering, do you make custom knit sweaters at all?”

The man was a bit lanky, but his beard was oiled and kempt and his eyes glistened beyond crow's feet lines that shone out like sun rays. “Kita, you got this one?” Tracy peered at me from beyond her readers and her curled blonde bangs.

“Hi, yes, I knit some of what you see in the store here. What is it you were looking for exactly?” I questioned the man.

We made eye contact. There was still a shred of youth in his features. He was probably about my age, ‘round 40ish. I immediately felt looked at – like I was on the screen of a T.V. Being the center of attention makes me feel vulnerable, like a 20-pointer stepping into an open meadow first day of hunting season. But I guess this is just part of my job, I need to talk to people, and sometimes they happen to be good-looking people.

He said, “I want something custom for my mom’s birthday.” He pulled out a sepia polaroid rusted from time. “Can you replicate this sweater? It was my mom’s favourite in the '70s.”

“Yeah, I should be able to. When do you need it for?” I asked.

He cringed, then gently touched my arm, “In two weeks?”

My arm burned from his touch. I felt a boil starting in my heart and I suddenly got really hot and clammy. It’s as though my body were warning me – this will be a path of tears and heartbreak, get away from me. And at 38, I’m exhausted. Love just isn’t in the cards for me, I should know this by now.

So, I got a grip and hardened myself up. Scoffing with a dismissive laugh, I said, “Sorry. That’s not enough time.” I needed to feel my power again. I didn’t care how I got it.

He looked dejected and put his photo back into his wallet. “Okay, I thought it might be a long shot. Thank you anyways…” he paused and looked at my employee name tag then lifted his eyes to meet mine, offering a kind smile, “Nakita.” There was nothing but the sound of the bell on the door and he was gone.

When I got home after work, the silence of the walls liquified into a cold sadness in my chest. I put on the podcast Mystic Mother as I cooked dinner to drown out the stillness and the profound quiet. "Was she just a pimp?" I wondered about the leader of the Phoneix Goddess Temple as I sipped a cheap red blend from a chipped coffee cup and stirred the carmelizing onions over the stove. Any distraction was welcomed by me with open arms.

But when I sat down to my meal for one at the coffee table in front of the T.V. the voices of the characters in the Turner Classic Movie of the hour sounded more like a noir rhythmic melody and less like meaningful words. I once again could hear the silence beyond the noise.

I could have knit him that sweater in two weeks. Easy. So why do I do this to myself? I glance around the living room and feel its unmoving parts and objects, as though I were a disruption in a still-life painting.

There was something there with him. But it scared me.

Being alone is painful. And I do a really good job of keeping it that way.

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About the author

Kendra Marya

Campervan living Canadian with a penchant for psychological thrills and cats.

B.A. Communication & Philosophy

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