The bookshop was really just one of these hole-in-the-wall places, a door between two bright, shiny businesses. The window was stacked with books, hiding everything inside. There was a posterboard that read “All Trade Paperbacks, $1” in front of the four towers of crappy paperback books – mostly romance novels from the scrawling letters – which balanced in the window.
The woman who entered this day was not tall, not beautiful, and not dressed up. Wearing jeans and a shirt that read “Talk N Er Dy to me” with the periodic symbols for Nitrogen, Erbium, and Dysprosium for the Nerdy spelling. It was a little loose and around her waist was tied the arms of a hoodie.
Behind the counter the proprietor raised his head without opening his eyes. His sharp teeth gleamed as he said, “I think you might be lost ma’am.”
“I hope not,” she replied, turning in a slow circle to take in the shelves of precariously stacked shelved.
“Where are you trying to go?”
“Anywhere,” she replied, putting her fingers on the spine of a book with almost reverence.
The shop owner narrowed his eyes and took a long, deep breath. The pages of the book beneath him stirred in the wind of that air and settled again. He looked down and tapped on the page with a soft grunt of surprise.
“Very well ma’am. It seems you aren’t as lost as I thought. Are you sure?”
She didn’t reply, she had lifted a book from the shelf and was reading the first page. The shopkeeper sighed and shook his head a little. He tapped a bell on the counter and bowed his head against his chest again.
From the back room of the shop a door opened. Noise made the customer raise her head and she set the book back on the shelf, sidling towards the open doorway. As she stepped through, there was a jingle of laughter around her and three small baubles dropped into her hand.
“Should you ever wish to return, just eat one of these drops,” a voice said. “Just know, the same door is never available twice.”
She smiled a little and pocketed the baubles and fingered the five dragon drops.