A lady opened a chiral door, twinkling the bells above the thing and rousing the manager from his ambient slumber. She removed her hat with her left hand, errantly flicked gilded lilies from its lace edges, and then hazarded a greeting at the man:
"Lovely day, is it not?"
The storekeeper grumbled, something of roserot, something of plague, something of famine. The left handed lady smiled.
"Afraid not. This is my first day in Uleåborg."
The storekeeper mumbled, something of fishes, something of treasures, something of cloth twice-tapered to frames. The lady's smile faded a touch, the edges of her mouth curling in that odd, morose fashion that you see in sepia photographs.
The lady placed her hat upon the rack, then pulled out of her shoes and aligned them on the provided mat. She wriggled her toes along the cracks of the wooden floorboards, embracing the dusting polish and subtle squeak. She strode, then stood near a case of pearlescent eggs.
The lady moved her finger along the side of one of the ovalliptic treasures, stroking the smooth surface with intrigue and muted verve. She felt the egg shudder, contracting at her touch; she lifted it, and held it to her ear.
Beat. Beat. Beat. Beat.
The circulation of the thing was strong. Its amniotic blankets, she knew, would soon be free of it. It was not, though, the thing she wanted. She turned to the storekeeper, his eyes still crusted shut from a decade of apathy, and assumed an unassuming, apologetic facade.
"Thank you, but no thank you."
She walked to the door, plucked her hat from the stand, re-seated her feet within her shoes, then strode out the door into Uleåborg in Second Spring.
The egg she stole nestled and wriggled within her pocket.
The lady entered again, this time twisting clockwise a copper doorknob, then pulling forwards. The room was filled with ticking, whistling, whirring clocks, though could easily have done secondary trade in dust collection. An ancient thing stood behind a rotting counter, pushing round pegs into square holes. The lady removed her hat, again brushing lilies to the floor. She smiled, she spoke:
"Is this the house for souls?"
The old thing groaned, of fables, of tables, of fine silica dust. Her face tightened. She held her hat in hand, moving through the rows of wares with shoes clonk-clonk-clonk against the floor. This was not a room to be without garb. Sliver, sliver. She felt a chunk move beneath her weight, and felt a withering feeling. A realisation, she turned.
"This is the house for twelfth-grade metaphors."
The old thing moaned, of stories, of classes, both English and Upper. The lady frowned, continuing about. She lifted a timepiece, appraising it in her hands. She turned it around; engraved on the silver frame, she read:
The Magnum Opus Of John Harrison
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
A constant time. Kept even, steady, and well; a wholesome time, not bespectacled or wrought by fever or flame. This was a handcrafted tune, and the last living testament to an eternal chronology.
"A solemn beat for an old, wise man. Best to leave it here."
She turned, clonk-clonk-clonk, then a decent twist and pushing backwards to leave. A respectful bow, a returning of hat to head, then a silent wave farewell.
The House for Twelfth-Grade Metaphors was down an instrument.
The left handed lady piled the objects into a latent crib. She puddled the things together, the mewling, spittering, shuddering thing clicking and cricking and tocking and ticking.
And so the Second Hand Soul of a Thursday's Serpent wrought the First Tickerman.
License: CC BY:NC:SA 3.0