STEVEN JERAL HARRIS
EMERALD BLUE OKIKI
On our way back, I take a closer glimpse at the stores against the main road. Everything from restaurants, pastry shops, clothing boutiques, and even hair salons, are stacked together on both sides.
However, this town has a different style than others.
The stores aren’t covered in fancy signs and bright colors like those you’d typically see in a city. The store faces are painted in warm, more humble colors.
The signs hanging over the stores appear to be homemade. Also, almost every store has a picture of that black lion hanging in a window, but it’s mostly cartoonish interpretations of the animal. One would assume this character serves as some kind of gimmick for the town to lure tourist. As we travel along, I see a wooden sign hanging off a storefront.
It reads "Linda's Antiques” in white cursive letters. The building itself is small and painted a dark green.
‘An Antique shop...’ I speak loud enough so my mother can hear me.
‘Wanna check it out?’ She asks.
‘If you don’t want to, we don’t have to.’
‘Okay why not,’ she replies.
She turns into a random parking lot, backs out, and drive watchfully back up the street.
‘It’s right here,’ I point to the store.
"It doesn’t look like much. I guess it’s worth a peek,’ she says before parking and killing the engine.
Two minutes later, we enter the store with the sound of ringing chimes above our heads. The inside smells like a mix between lemon air freshener, mothballs, and something musty. The shop is even smaller than it appears from outside. It’s just one large dimly lit room with a bathroom behind the counter. A hippie looking woman with glasses is reading a magazine at the register.
She looks up, places her magazine on the counter, and smiles hard at us.
‘Welcome,’ the woman says in a friendly tone.
‘Hello,’ my mom greets back.
‘Need help finding anything in particular?’
‘No, we’re just looking around.’
‘Well, take a look. If you have any questions just ask me,’ the woman says nicely and continues reading her magazine.
I roll myself towards the dolls resting disorderly on the floor. Most of their eyes are missing and their dresses are horribly ragged. I move along and spot some books stacked high in a cardboard box mixed with old VHS tapes. I search through them with hopes of finding some interesting titles.
Unfortunately, I’ve read most of these books while the others are useless due to water damage.
Down further, I find some aged oil paintings standing up against the wall.
‘Look at this Iva,’ my mom grasps my attention behind me.
She has her back turn to me as if she’s trying to conceal something. Swiftly, she shifts to me revealing these glasses with long flexible coils and eyes attached to them.
‘Funny right?’ She asks.
‘Oh, mom, please stop, I’m laughing too hard. Bla, bla, bl,’ I reply tonelessly.
Humble as can be, she places the glasses back on the shelf, straight-faced.
‘I remember when you used to laugh at all my jokes,’ she informs me.
‘Yeah, and then I turned five,’ I add while studying a small soldier figurine.
Sparking no interest in me, I place the figurine where it belong and continue through the store. I then see an old acoustic guitar lying on the table. Like a child I can’t help but run my fingers down the wires gently, creating a mild tune with every popping string.
‘See anything you like?’ She asks.
‘Not really. I guess I’m ready to go.’ I reply.
‘Sure? You just got here.’
‘Yeah I’m sure.’
My mom grabs the handles of my wheelchair and prepares to push me forward.
‘Thank you,’ my mom says to the woman at the counter.
The woman shifts away from her reading material and smiles at us.
‘Thank you for stopping by,’ she says and then switches back to reading again.
While my mom pushes me towards the door, I discover something appealing on a high shelf. It’s red, blood red, and rectangular in shape.
‘What’s that?’ I point up to it and my mother’s eyes follow my finger.
‘I don't know,’ she responds.
‘Excuse me,’ I grasp the lady’s attention at the register. ‘What’s that?’
The hippie woman follows my finger to the rectangular box.
‘That’s, uh—,’ she places down her magazine and walks over to the shelf, stands on her tippy toes, and then grabs it.
She wipes off some dirt and studies its appearance.
‘—uh I found it when I was gardening. I never figured it out. I know it’s old though.’
‘How much is it?’ I ask.
The woman shrugs her shoulders and ponders.
‘Uh, three bucks,’ she says.
‘May I see it?’ I ask with my hands presented.
She hands me the box, which is much heavier than it appears. The dimensions of the box are about 4inches wide by 9inches long with a height of 3inches. I brush more dirt off its surface in order to study it further. The texture feels like a smooth stone. Then my breathing stops for a moment when I realize my hands warming up.
‘Wow, its warm,’ I think out loud.
‘Yeah, it’s always like that,’ the woman clarifies.
‘What is keeping it warm?’ I ask curiously.
I raise the box next to my ear and proceed to shake it. It seems to be empty.
‘You want it Iva?’ My mom asks.
I blow away particles of dirt which reveal a small leaf engraved on it.
‘Yes,’ I reply, still studying the box, ‘I'll take it.’
She reaches into her purse, pulls out three one dollar bills, and hands it to the woman.
‘Pleasure doing business, thank you and stop by some other time.’
‘Thanks a lot, bye.’ My mom finishes.
We make it back home in no time. As soon as I get the chance I roll myself to my bedroom with the box resting on my lap.
‘Lunch will be ready in ten,’ my mom’s voice follows behind me as I enter my room.
‘Okay,’ I reply hastily.
I place the box on my desk for further examination. It takes some muscle work and a damp cloth to bring the box back to life. Now with it cleaned off, I lift the box and observe it more closely. Every inch of the box is engraved in a leaf pattern. I flip it around several times trying to figure out if it has some kind of opening. Suddenly, my pointer finger sinks into its side.
I lift the box closer to my eyes. I press down on the small dime sized area once more. This doesn’t seem to do anything. I analyze it further and discover a similar area on the opposite side. Still, nothing happens when I press it.
I nibble the inside of my cheek and begin to contemplate its function. Suddenly an idea hits me. I feel around on both sides simultaneously with my pointer fingers. At once I push into both sides. Then the top of the box lifts at an angle, releasing old musty air.
I place the box down on the desk in front of me.
The top slowly lifts at a 90 degree angle and stops. I’m shocked at what I discover. Inside is nothing but a hovering spec of light.
‘Whoa.’ I mutter underneath my breath.
Reality doesn’t kick in immediately. With slow but anxious hands, I lift the box off the table and examine the floating orb of light. All of a sudden that tiny white light burst into a brilliant flash, which clouds my vision entirely. A second later the light is fading away. I then see my mom coming into view, looking down at me with worried eyes.
I also see lights and ceiling tiles moving pass me.
Her mouth is moving but her voice is faint, like a television playing in low volume. The white blinding light vanishes completely. I then realize other people looking down at me.
Then it hits me, although only seconds went by,
I’m somehow in the hospital…
Watch out for Season Two!