Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Crystal Spider, Part One

Rushing through the mall, Abby was looking for the perfect gift for her mother. Her mother collected small porcelain figurines, generally from this one store that had handcrafted, local art figures. Jogging between two women, Abby ignored her father’s call to slow down; it was Christmas! She had to find the perfect gift before someone else bought it!

Stopping outside the store that simply held the storefront sign “Crystal Dreams” instead of a window display, Abby waited for her father to catch up so that he wouldn’t complain any further. An older man, at least when compared to the nine year old, Abby’s father was in his early sixties with a slight paunch and a fake knee, making him not one of the fastest people on the world. Looking in the glass of the storefront, Abby tugged on her twin braids, pulling them from behind her head to the front, resting on her collarbones. Abby frowned at the sight of the dress that her father had insisted she wear if they were going out in public, she did admit it made her look cute, in a puritan sort of way.
Abby would have just preferred a sweater and jeans, but her father was a traditionalist, and according to him young girls wore dresses.
Abby shook her head, turning to look down the causeway, catching her father’s eye as he hobbled slowly towards the store. He smiled and waved for her to go ahead, bringing a smile to her face.
Pushing open the door to the dark store, Abby whistled as she caught sight of one of the shelves lined with small figurines, ranging from flowers and mice to the stranger things (who would want a crystal cactus?). Abby walked down the entryway towards the register, where a plump Asian man stood, a chocolate covered stick sticking out of his mouth as he read the newspaper.
“How’s business Jung?” Abby asked, resting her elbow on the countertop as she leaned against it. Jung looked over at her and folded his newspaper, smiling.
“Pretty good so far, just bought up a whole bunch of stuff from an estate sale so I have some fresh inventory, been keeping it in the back room knowing my usual customers would be showing up.”
Abby laughed. “That’s me! I’m looking for something for my Mom. Got anything different?”
“Different?” Jung repeated a certain glint in his eye.
“Yeah, different. She has, like, a thousand figurines already, and almost all of them are the same cutesy things: mice, pigs, ducks… well you know.”
“Yeah, I do sell her a lot of the more… adorable items. Why break from tradition?” Jung asked, moving around the counter as Abby’s father walked into the store. “Oh, hello Mr. Shipman.”
“Brad is fine Jung, we’ve been over this.” Brad said, extending a hand in greeting.
Jung shook it heartily. “I was just about to show Abby the new stuff I got in. Big estate sale, guy had thousands of items for me to buy.”
“Did you buy them all?” Abby gasped.
Jung nodded. “Down to the last one. Had a few regulars come in already and buy a few dozen each, they’re so original. Let me show you.”
Jung walked to the back, pulling back a curtain so Brad and Abby could enter the backroom, which held even more shelves than the front, all crowded with porcelain, china, and crystal figures. Abby oohed and aahed over the collected items while Brad and Jung started up a conversation.
“So an estate sale. Who died?” Brad asked, blinking slowly.
“Some explorer guy, traveled the world and made glass and crystal art for a living. He did a life size crucifix out of bone and topaz.” Jung said, leaning against the door jam.
“Really? Did you buy that?” Brad asked, impressed that such a thing could be done.
Jung nodded. “Sold it to an older lady that is really into Jesus stuff. Made enough to cover rent on my store for the next half year.”
“How much did you pay for it?” Brad asked, suspicious of high mark-up.
Jung merely shook his head. “Trade secret, but don’t worry. So long as Abby doesn’t pick anything too rare you should be fine.”
“She’s buying it with her own money, which she’s saved all year,” Brad corrected him, “I won’t be buying anything today.”
“Oh, how sweet. Buying a gift for her Mom with her own money. How… is her Mom, by the way?” Jung asked, hesitating to approach the sore subject.
“The treatments are going well and she’s keeping down her food these days, so we think it’s in remission. We have some doctors’ appointments in January that’ll let us know.”
“That’s good to hear!”
Meanwhile, Abby had moved from shelf to shelf, looking for the perfect figurine. She’d passed over abstract shapes and strange little men, and was now looking at a collection of fine crystal spiders, their bodies see through. One, roughly the size of her hand, had thick legs and pointed fangs, with eight tiny black pearls for eyes.
“Mom loves black pearls!” Abby whispered. She didn’t know her mother’s opinion on spiders (she knew she wasn’t scared of them) but this piece was exquisite! Picking it up gently, she noted that the large rear of the spider had a hook on it.
“Hey Jung! What’s this one cost?” Abby called out, pulling him away from his conversation.
“That one? Why do you want that one?” Jung asked, looking at her oddly.
“Just how much will it run me?”
“I spent only a little on that whole collection, so I could let it go for a hundred dollars,” Jung replied, ignoring the glare from Brad.
“I’ll take it!” Abby declared, holding it up to shine some light on it. “Hey, there’s some water inside it.”
“Yeah, all of that set has fluids in them. A little strange, but I’ve never seen it done before with crystal wrought art.” Jung said, moving out into the main room. Brad stayed behind and waited for his daughter.
“Do you really want to spend a hundred dollars on a spider? What if your Mom doesn’t like it?” Brad asked, stressing how she might not like it.

“Then I’ll return it and get something else,” Abby stated simply.

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