I sit back in my chair as I finish yet another conference call. My pitch went over well and I’m sure there’s a pretty high chance that at least one of my investors will adopt the plan. Whatever, normal business stuff, time to get back into regular clothes.
I let my eyes scan the floorboards of my house as I autopilot myself back to my bedroom. It seems like every day nowadays is the same. Wake up, business, business, business… sleep. Each day accompanied by the ever-growing dread that my life getting too monotonous for me to even be able to function.
I watch myself start to grab my lounge clothes. "No," I tell myself, "It’s time to do something different. I need to get out of this house. It’s time to explore the town." But how, exactly? I can’t just walk outside, with my face being on every magazine within an immediate five-mile radius I would get noticed in a second.
Are sunglasses good enough?
I grab my most stylish flannel and jeans and grab my most “I’m not a rich playboy” sunglasses. I check myself out in the mirror, not to bad. I should wear common people outfits more often.
Now for the transportation situation, I can’t take my sportscar… okay sportscars, into town. Oh I know, I’ll just take my bike. I half run half walk to my garage. From there I grab my bike from the rack on the wall and the bike lock right next to it and take it out of the side door. I feel a giddy smile grow across my face as it feels like I might be able to have a normal life for just five and a half seconds. I lift my foot onto the pedal and push myself down my driveway.
I haven’t ridden this thing in like… ten years.
I feel myself wobbling like crazy as I desperately try to cling to the last bit of control I have. I start to stabilize. Just kidding, I fall off the bike. I quickly stand up and take a quick glance around me just to make sure no one saw, It’s stupid but I guess it’s just a habit I have from the paparazzi constantly catching every embarrassing moment. Nope, all clear.
I stand the bike back up and gently place my foot back on the pedal. Okay, let’s take this slow. I slowly start to crawl forward, then faster, than faster. Soon enough I’m moving at a reasonable pace and feel fairly confident. Time to ride.
I watch as the large luxury houses of my neighborhood give way into large streets lined with shops and office buildings. I decide to diverge from the main road for fear of being run over and or noticed. I start to make my way around the side streets of the downtown area. It’s odd to see how the mainstream shops disappear and are instead replaced by smaller, non-chain shops. Although nothing is catching my attention.
A couple more turns and a few blocks later I see a bike rack. I glide over to the curb and come to a halt. I roll my bike onto the sidewalk and maneuver it into the rack. I start to wrap the bike lock around it. Wait, I don’t remember the code.
Wait, it’s me.
I’m such an idiot.
With my newly lockable bike lock, I start to walk down the sidewalk towards the parts of the street I haven’t explored yet. There are a lot of small boutiques, kids stores, and a bunch of other things I don’t really care about. That’s when I see it.
A small shop stands in front of me with old-timey print on the windows and small display stands.
Toys and Antiquities
I quickly maneuver towards the front of the shop without another thought in my head. I push the door open, hearing the chime of a metal bell covered in rust as I step in. Immediately I am surrounded by shelves and racks of tin toys and other old objects. The shop is dimly lit so I instinctively take off my sunglasses. I scan the shelves and gently run my hand over some of the objects. A hollow tin bus with scraped paint, then a wooden yo-yo with a frayed string, a bag of faded marbles, jacks, dolls, teddy bears and so on. Eventually, I wind up in the far corner of the store.
I find a glass box, and on a perch inside is a small, mechanical bird. A bluebird to be specific. I could just barely see the gears on his underbelly and the hinges on his body were so well hidden they were almost invisible.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it,” a soft voice behind me says.
I reflexively jump, startled by the sudden presence of a human behind me. I look over to whoever just spoke. They had light auburn hair that sat in a slightly shaggy mess on top of their head. Their face showed slight freckles and their eyes shown with the color of hot chocolate. A quick glance at their body showed me that it was a boy and a very cute one at that. He was small yet had a slightly stocky build. He was clothed in a brown t-shirt and jeans. Funnily enough it looks like he hasn’t even looked at me directly yet.
“Yes, it is,” I said, trying to end the awkward silence I left by staring at him.
“I think of everything here she has the most interesting history.”
I cocked my head to show I was interested, “Really, what’s it’s story.”
“Well, it was my great grandmother's wedding gift. Back then it was its original copper color. My great granddad said it was her something new. Then my grandpa gave it to my grandma as her something new and her something borrowed. Than my grandparents house was flooded in a storm and this bird was soaked. Luckily it was salvaged. However, when copper rusts it turns blue, and that’s exactly what happened. Then it was passed onto my dad and he gave it to my mom as her something old, her something new, her something borrowed, and her something blue.”
I noticed the smile that had crossed my face as he was telling the story, “Is she going to pass it on to you?”
“If she had the chance to I’m sure she would have,” He said with a somber smile.
I instantly understood what he meant, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to press.”
“Don’t worry about it, I love talking about the stories of the things in here, anyways is there anything I can help you with.” He said as for the first time during this conversation he actually looked at me. His smile faltered and his face seemed to drop.
Oh no, I don’t have my glasses on. Did he recognize me?
Suddenly his smile returned, but there seemed to be added interest behind it.
Oh, wait he asked me a question, “Uh, yeah I was looking for something to make my life less… boring.”
He seemed to be thinking for a second, then I saw a brightness come to his eyes, “I know just the thing.”
He walked into the back and left me to think for a second. Well, he didn’t comment on who I was so he must not have recognized me. But what was that look he gave me? Before I could think anything else I heard a loud thud on the front counter.
“Hey...uh, guy come here,” I heard the man say accompanied by a giggle. I walked to the front counter and saw him holding a big book like object with intricate stitching in the front cover. “I realize now that I didn’t catch your name.”
“It’s Malic, and you?”
“Well, nice to meet you, Jamie,” I said as I extend my hand. He grasps it and shakes.
“Nice to meet you as well, Malic.”
“Anyways, what’s this idea of your’s.”
He nods, “Well, I know it sounds stupid, but I would suggest scrapbooking, or at least keeping a photo log.”
“Why is that?”
“Well,” he said, “I’m a firm believer in the fact that everything has a story, why not make some.”
Huh, well that would make my life less boring. “Have you ever scrapbooked before,” I asked.
He shook his head.
“Well if I’m going to break my scrapbook virginity you should too, after all, you are ‘Mr. Stories,” I said to him with a raised eyebrow.
He seemed to think about it for a bit, but quickly nodded, “Let’s do it.”
I couldn’t explain why I felt so comfortable around him already. Maybe it has something to do with him being the first stranger I’ve met in a while who hasn’t tried to tackle me. Maybe it’s because he is extremely cute. Who knows?
“Do you have something to take a picture with,” I asked him.
Sparkles seemed to fill his eyes as he got suddenly giddy, “Hold on,” and then he was off.
Seconds later he returned from the back room carrying what looked like a 60’s Polaroid camera.
“I just happen to have to have a bit more film in this,” he smiled.
He walked around the counter to my side and handed me the camera. I didn’t realize how much shorter he is than me. Somehow that made him even more adorable than I thought. I put my arm around his shoulder and used my other arm to hold the camera in front of us. We both smile as the camera shutters, the picture moves out of the camera and I take it and set it aside and take another picture. We peel the negative off of our photos and shake it revealing the picture we just took.
“That’s a good picture,” he says as he begins to pocket it.
“Wait,” I said, “We have to write a caption.”
“But I don’t know what to write,” he pouted.
“Here, hand me your picture and a marker.” He does as I ask and I scribble some words onto the back of the photo and then scribble some onto mine. I slide my picture into the scrapbook and begin to take out my wallet to pay for it.
“No, no,” he says, “The scrapbook is on the house, it’s my pleasure to help make stories.”
My jaw hits the floor, “Nope, I’m paying for it, how much is it.”
“There is no price cause it’s free,” he says with a smirk clearly thinking he’s won.
“Fine,” I say, feigning defeat, “Well, here’s your tip,” I say as I drop a one hundred dollar bill into the tip jar.
“I watch as his eyes practically bulge out of his skull, “I can’t take that,” he said, “I would feel awful.”
“Don’t,” I say with a genuine smile.
“I swear if you ever come back here again I will pay back every cent,” he says with sincerity in his eyes.
I grab the book, “No need, it’s my pleasure to help make stories,” I say in a teasing tone. His half-baked attempts at making a response followed me as I walked towards the door. “Oh,” I said catching his attention, “Make sure to read your captions, you never know what stories you might find.”
I left the store knowing full well that he would find my phone number on the back of that picture. So as I hopped on my bike with my book in hand I thought about my first caption.