Patricia ambled aimlessly down the crooked aisles of the dark and dusty antique shop. She wasn’t looking for anything specific. Actually, she wasn’t looking for anything at all. She had come into the city to do some shopping when the overcast sky gave way to rain. Seeking shelter, she had ducked in here more to wait out the storm then to buy anything.
Soon, a lady with gray hair and a weathered face approached her. Not seeing her at first, she was startled when the woman spoke. “Is there anything I can show you” the woman asked. “We have all manner or treasures here. Perhaps I could interest you in this brush and comb set, solid silver. And the mirror is like new. See for yourself” she said, holding out the mirror. Patricia took it more out of courtesy then interest. But when she looked at it, she had to admit that it possessed a special charm. Shades of times passed. She gazed into the mirror and felt a connection, a familiarity with the item. Although tarnished, it was warm to the touch.
“My grandmother had a set very much like this when I was a little girl” Patricia said. She would spend hours, brushing her hair and mine. She would hold the mirror up so I could see the sheen of my hair, and I would do the same for her so she could admire her silvered locks. Then she would hug me and we would both laugh”
The woman said not a word but listened intently. Patricia, a little surprised at sharing her memories with a perfect stranger, thanked her and returned the mirror. The woman took it and, with the brush and comb, placed them in an old weathered trunk, which she could see was full of what appeared to be ladies garments. “What a beautiful trunk” she said. “Do you know how old it is”?
“I don’t really” the woman said. “It just came in yesterday and I haven’t even had a chance to sort through the contents. But, it appears they are ladies dresses from I would say the early nineteen hundreds. Turning, she again opened the lid as Patricia stepped forward. Reaching down, Patricia gently caressed the fabrics, again gaining a connection with the articles.
“If you are interested, I can make you a very good price on the trunk. I know I can sell the ladies silver set, but I don’t really have much if any call for period clothes. So I will make you an offer. The trunk and all the clothes plus, the silver set as one lot for two hundred dollars. What do you think”?
Patricia knew it was a very good price. The trunk alone was worth more then that. But she lived in an apartment and had no use for it. “It is certainly a very fair offer she said, but I must decline. I really have no use for the clothes and in my limited living accommodations, no space for the trunk. I am sorry as I love them both”. She again bent down and carefully examined the dresses, neatly folded and stacked and her memories began to replay.
Straightening up, she noted that the rain had stopped and was surprised to find she had been in the store over an hour. She thanked the woman for her time and offer, and exited the store. However, as the day progressed, she was unable to get the trunk out of her mind. It was like she was being drawn to it. Like it’s very presence was summoning memories of a childhood long forgotten, or at least suppressed.
That evening, Patricia stood on a chair in front of her closet. From the top shelf she removed an old album. It had been years since she had been inclined to peruse it. Curling up in her favorite chair, she began looking at each of the old black and white pictures, many of which she had inherited from her mother. For the first time, she breathed in the detail of the time and the people portrayed in the photos, lingering on each one as if they held her in their hand. In one of them, of her mother and her grandmother, she noted that, partially hidden by the ladies, there was a trunk, not unlike the one she had seen today. Deja Vu, she thought. It was just so improbable, but impossible to overlook. That is when she made her decision. She had no use for the trunk, but had to have it. In the morning, she would return to the store and see if the offer was still good.
Patricia arrived at the store early, actually a little before they opened. When she saw a lady approach the front door and undo the lock, she quickly entered. “Good morning” the lady said. “How may I help you”?
“I’m here to buy the trunk” Patricia stammered. “Another lady showed it to me yesterday and offered to sell it and all it’s contents for two hundred dollars. I have decided to accept the offer”.
“I’m not familiar with a trunk” the lady said. “However, we do have them from time to time. I would be happy to take your name and number in the event we get another one.”
“A nice elderly lady showed it to me. She said it had just come in. It was full of old dresses and a comb and brush set. It brought back so many memories, I decided I must have it.”
“I’m sorry” the saleslady said, somewhat flustered. “I’m not familiar with it. How long ago did you say this happened”?
“Yesterday” Patricia said. Yesterday afternoon. It was raining and I came in”.
The lady stared blankly for a moment and then said “are you sure it wasn’t the day before. We were closed yesterday for my grandmothers funeral.