Life Of Another

It was a DIY-Kit for $5.95, half-price at the liquidation sale at a shop nobody thought would ever fail. But who goes shopping anymore when we can get anything we want with a click of a button. But he still felt sad, it is never good when a feeling of nostalgia finally dies. Why he bought it, he really didn’t know. Was it to give the proprietor’s family a bit more time to keep feeding themselves. Maybe that was it, maybe he was a softie.

The kit sat on the coffee table that whole week, he picked it up and fumbled it often as he chose to work on the couch instead of in his home office’s broken chair. On Wednesday he had opened the box, there was a tiny pamphlet no bigger than his thumb and a tiny computer chip held in thick plastic. The selling point for it all was well thought out, it came with a silver plated medal made out of recycled iron clasped to a chain. The medal had an all-seeing-eye wide awake and carried in a pyramid exactly like the one on an old one dollar bill. It must have been fun to use coins and paper money long, long ago. Just that was worth the $5.95 he thought to himself.

On the back of the box were the four instructions with a large sunburst design in yellow and words in orange: IT’S EASY!

On Friday night he still didn’t have a date, so when he had sent the last email and clicked his laptop off until Monday, he popped open a cold brew and sat staring at the coffee table. Besides the crumbs from his hurried lunches that week there was the box turned on its back revealing the instructions, the chip now unwrapped from its thick plastic shell and the silver medal which caught the light from the window as the sun went down.

He swigged the beer along his gums, held it fizzy for a moment on his tongue and then swallowed. He placed the chip on his forehead as he was instructed. There was a slight itch as it burrowed under his skin. He picked up the medal on that chain, he let it sway back and forth as he watched. Then he repeated the words on the box, it made him remember the rhyme on the cereal box as a kid when he had discovered the decoder ring lost in rings of rolled wheat. But this time the rhyme was very different:

When was was when

Are you you are

Was when were you

No you no I

To me are you

Past I are you

He felt a slight warmth spiral from his forehead. Suddenly he was in a shop, a shop full of people delighted to look at gizmos and gadgets. There were words floating of “Welcome”, “Good Day’, “Thanks for coming by and buy!” “Come again!” There was the sound of coins jingling and tapping as they hit the sales counter, a ring of a bill as the old cash register opened, the crinkle of sacks and bags as all sorts of things were placed therein. Even a question, “Would you like that wrapped as a gift?”

People spent time wandering from shelf to shelf. They talked with one another. They joked. He saw it all, he was the one who owned that shop. An eight hour day, days of delight Monday through Saturday. With only one day to rest, but who needed to rest when each hour was fun. He saw boys and girls buy their first purchases for themselves for others who were having birthday parties. He saw them grow, knew them all by name. They came in with their children and grandchildren until one day, it all stopped. The tiny bell on the door rang only once or twice. Then maybe it was quiet for more than a week. Sale signs filled the windows, were taped to the shelves. Then clearance in bright orange letters. Then all in red: liquidation.

He felt the cold tip of a gun next to his head. A loud bang unlike any bell on a shop’s door. There was a searing pain as the chip dislodged from his head and a last echo:

This was my life, glad you shared. Now no more.

The shock lasted for a few minutes. He needed to feel better. He got online. He began to click and click. The orders would be there on his doorstep in the morning. Shopping always helped him feel so much better.

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