The notions shop

The sign on the glass and wood door says

“Please shut door to keep air-conditioning inside.”

A little bell jingles as I push the door open

And walk into the tiny little shop

filled from floor to ceiling with ribbons,

elastic, thread, beads, yarn, embroidery hooks,

satin slippers ready to be cross-stitched,

seam binding, needles, pins, rickrack…

The tiny lady welcomes me from behind

a big desk, and rises from her padded chair.

“May I help you?” she says in a quiet voice.

I reach over to a roll of narrow elastic and

pull out a bit. “I’d like two meters, please.”

The lady reaches for her scissors and

measuring tape, and cuts my elastic.

“Would you like anything else?” she asks,

hopefully, looking around the shop.

“Oh, yes,” says I, “I’d like some thread, please,

Black and white.” The trays of thread are

stacked up against the wall. She takes a quick

look around and says, “I’m sorry, we’re out of

black and white.” Then, struck with an idea, she says,

“But what about this one? It’s nearly black.

Oh, and this one is almost white. Can you use them?”

I look at the almost-black and almost-white thread.

“Yes, those would be fine.” Something catches

my eye near the door. Rolls of ribbon in

a rainbow of colors, thin ones, medium ones,

wide ones. I point to a thin turquoise one.

“I’d like one meter of this ribbon, too.”

The little shopkeeper smiles and picks up

her scissors from the counter. “Yes, that one

is pretty,” she says, measuring and chopping

in one swift move. “Will that be all?” she asks.

“Yes, I think that will be all.” She gathers my

things on the counter and puts them into a

little red paper bag, which she carefully

folds over and fastens with tape. Then she

pulls out an invoice pad and writes up my bill,

adding in her head, “One fifty, sixty cents,

forty-five cents…she writes the figures down

on the paper, and when she’s done she says,

“That will be three fifty.” I give her a five, and

she reaches into a box behind the counter and

pulls out a handful of change, which she counts

out on the glass counter — a big pile of coins!

I thank her, slide the coins across the counter

and into my hand, and then stuff them with the

little bag into my fanny pack. “Have a good day,” I say

as I open the jingly door. “You, too,” she says.

I am careful to close the door tightly on my way out.

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