Short Story: Retail Past

She found her favourite seat, empty as always. Her favourite seat for some time. Her favourite since she was little.

The Kid sat down on the decaying wooden bench and unwrapped a sloppily-assembled sandwich from its plastic food bag prison as he looked toward the row of empty shops across the road. They were all boarded up some years ago, she remembered. One after the other in a protracted chain of closures.

As she began to recall a better, more colourful time, before the closures, the plywood boards covering the windows slowly faded and gave way to their old selves. The old cafĂ© where she would always be taken for some of the best sausage rolls in town flickered back into life. Crockery clattered a random, unstructured song as staff rushed to serve a growing queue of customers and the customers endured the challenge of simply finding a free table without spilling their coffee all over. The empty building next door slowly became a clothes shop once more. A score of women, none of them could possibly be younger than thirty, fussed over this summer dress or that sky blue sweater before the thought of trying them on even crossed their minds. Meanwhile their children moped about at their parents’ sides, looking bored out of their skulls. Truth be told, The Kid was among those little ones.

The sequence continued, each empty shop shifting into their former selves, each one bringing nothing but good memories. The music shop where she discovered the likes of Moby and Orbital at an early age, the catalogue shop that never failed to bring her joy when her newest toy landed on the collection desk, everything down to the shop that sold sex toys and lingerie, took renewed shape before her. The Kid’s mother always rushed her right past that one without any explanation, at least until she finally figured it out in her early teens.

The sandwich was finished, a lot quicker than The Kid had hoped, and the bustling retail units all reverted to their empty shells as quickly as they had sprung back to life. The ghosts of retail past. Nothing more.

The food bag fell into the nearby bin as flawlessly as ever and The Kid hopped to her feet once more. She checked her watch. Half past twelve. Her music downloads should be finished by now, she figured, and with any luck her brother stayed in the house long enough to receive the new summer dress she ordered.

Author’s note:

I kind of bashed this one out after finding that, following the news surrounding retail chain GAME’s downfall of late, my two closest stores were shut down and cleared out permanently, with a sign pointing me to a surviving store that’s more than half an hour away. Not cool. Anyway, this half-arsed job, as you probably gathered by the fact that I was too lazy to give “The Kid” a name, wasn’t supposed to come across as DOOOOOOOOOOOOM! However, the more I went over it the more it felt that way, despite that not even being my intention. Oh well.

Creative Commons Licence
This short story is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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