Two jeweller stores on Triq Ir-Repubblika in Valletta. Photo: Anita Simonsen
It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another flash fiction!
The story is based on a photo, which I took during our exploration of Malta. The photo is of two Jewellery stores, which stands side by side on one of the main roads in Valletta’s cultural centre. One store is old and seemingly abandoned, while another is old and in prime condition.
The photo by itself tells a story, but I choose to put that story into words.
I hope you’ll enjoy it : D
Old and New
My life is in ruin.
No longer surrounded by gold, silver and gems.
There’s nothing to keep my hands busy.
Decades passed with success on my doorstep.
Until one morning.
Her hair curly red, her dress azure and chic.
Determined, her purse lightened.
She purchased the old book store next door.
Our eyes met, no crowfeet to be seen.
I am a jeweler. I breathe metal, I breathe stones.
I am my craft. Without that I am reduced to a shell.
With fancy high-heeled shoes she stepped on me until I cracked and scattered into a thousand pieces.
I was somebody.
Necklaces, bracelets, rings, brooches, lockets. I made it all.
Quality, precision and family tradition.
The store older than I, closed before time.
all because of her store, specialized in modern and new jewellery.
After they came and boarded up the place, I was empty. Restless.
A part of me left behind the shutters.
I returned weeks later.
Wearing a tall-collared jacket and sunglasses. I had let my beard grow out.
In the mirror I had seen a stranger, so I felt reassured my presence would go unnoticed.
I hadn’t been in her store before.
Geometrical shapes, plastic, bright colours.
Polar opposites. I flinched at the display cases. The glass briefly reflecting my scowl.
No regards for traditions, no regards for craft.
And yet her store was more filled than mine had been in years.
I didn’t look back.
My hands where shaking, they had always been steady.
Her store had been closed for the evening, hours ago.
The streets desolated, the moon in a cloudy sky. It was perfect.
Tinkering with metal for years teaches you a thing or two. The lock was unprepared, I wasn’t.
I knew how to bypass security. The same system had protected my store.
The jewellery greeted me despite its grotesque appearance. Replicating it had been harder than I cared to admit. I put the fake necklaces and rings in place of the real ones.
She would be ruined, when people found out ‘she’ had cheated them.
I couldn’t sleep.
I fiddled the corner of the paper to pieces. No news of scandal.
It was unacceptable. My plan was foolproof.
A week later I caved in and set foot in her store once more.
It was still crowded.
The fake jewellery still hiding in plain sight.
I kept my head down, glancing over the rim of my sunglasses.
She was at the counter, beaming like silver in the sunlight.
Our eyes met, a raised eyebrow.
She pounced on me before I could react.
“Mr. Moore, such a pleasant surprise”.
My tongue was a piece of wet cloth.
“Please, join me in the back. There’s something I’ve been meaning to discuss with you”.
Her workshop felt like home. I resisted the feeling.
She bid me to take a seat, I did. She was next to me, eager like a puppy.
“It-it is an h-honor”, she stammered, her business-like demeanour faltering.
“This …I”, she tugged at her hair. My palms felt sweaty.
I recalled the weight of the true jewellery as I tucked it in my jacket pocket.
“It broke my heart …seeing your store close”.
I stared at her dumbfounded, mouth dry.
“I’ve a proposal to make you”, slowly regaining confidence.
“I want you to be my business partner”.
It all happened so fast.
I stammered a ‘yes’, memories of long lost golden age passing me by, suddenly within reach.
She turned out to be anything but what I thought.
It wasn’t profitable for her, she had no obligation. One night I tried to reason with her, but she would have none of it.
My store reopened in the spring. Missing a wall sure, unity between old and new.
The customers could get the best of both worlds, she had said.
I saw the genius in it, I felt it when I sat down by my old workshop, hands steady.
My life restored.
I made sure to switch the jewellery.
If you want to read more, you can find an index of my written work here.