There wasn’t much warning. Not much time to prepare. For what, I can’t remember… Cold. Hard. Sharp. Lots of noise and pain. An urgency.
Then I woke up. On a normal street, no people in sight, with a small corner store before me.
It was quaint. A real mom and pop kind of place with the small wooden sign and a jumble of old looking children’s toys outside. There was… a warmth here. Something that pulled me, that made me want to go inside.
I chance a glance around and find the landscape around me isn’t familiar. Not really. It was an old country road, more dirt path than anything. Warm, happy and with a brilliant sun that bore down even though the air was pleasantly tepid. I couldn’t recall how I’d arrived, but my presence felt right. This is where I belonged, where I was meant to be.
There was a chime as I lingered, and I looked to find a woman standing at the door to the shop. She was older, with a soft smile and kind eyes. Her hair was a bushy blue-tinged mess of white and she had on an apron. Grandmotherly to the point it was overwhelming.
“You’re early,” She said her eyes flickering sadly for a moment before returning to their sky-blue sparkle.
“Do you know me?” It was my voice but… the sound didn’t feel right. A tightness seized my throat and I felt stricken.
“Oh, sweetheart don’t talk,” Seeing my distress the woman lifted my chin in hand and looked over my neck. She hummed to herself and gave me another pitying glance. “You’ll be alright. It happens sometimes.” Opening the door, she ushered me forth. “Come on inside. Let’s see what we can do.”
I followed her into the surprisingly dust free shack. It was much larger inside than out and there were people here.
No one seemed to notice us as we walked through the aisles of antiques and odd baubles. They all were too busy with the objects on the shelves.
“Here you go dear,” She led me to a rummage bin with an assortment of necklaces and small charms. They all looked old but had a sparkle to them that didn’t seem natural. “You’ll find what you need in there. Take your time. There is no need for you to rush anymore.”
Running a hand over a chain I go to thank her, but she’d already disappeared. So, had a few of the others that had been pouring over the items nearby. I suppose they’d found whatever it was they’d wanted. It was rather unalarming. It all seemed right.
Time passed, I know it did, but I couldn’t say how much. People came and went. The woman came and went. But I stayed right there. Looking, and looking, and looking. Chain after chain, charm after charm. Nothing seemed to fit.
I grew tired. Angry. I felt broken and sad and I was losing that happy content feeling. The longer I looked, the longer it took, the darker my attitude became.
Eventually my eyes began to burn with tears and I felt so tangled and restricted that I couldn’t help but cry. It hurt. My throat. My back. My arms and legs. Everything.
I crumpled, gasping for breath and the only comfort I had was the haunting chill of a thin silver chain and the outline of a metal charm grasped in my hand.
“Don’t fight,” I could hear the woman whisper by my ear. “It’s all going to be alright.”
I don’t remember much after the paramedics pulled me out of the mangled mess of my car. I was told a kind old lady had happened by and called the ambulance. She was even thoughtful enough to send me a beautiful silver necklace a few days later as I recovered in bed. It came along with a note that simply read, “See?”. She must have had a sick sense of humor though to have chosen that little car shaped charm.