Letters from Midgard
That Special Gift
A bookstore was the next place she entered. In a back room, a faint musty smell announced the home of old books. Many of these fairly flew off the shelves around her, so many good gifts for so many friends. And yes, some for herself, too.
But nothing for her brother. She sighed.
The man behind the counter rang up her purchase, and she left with two large and clumsy bags full of books. This wouldn't do. So she stopped, and put the books into her purse.
All of this shopping had made her hungry. Fortunately, she found the Food Court right about then. So many things to choose from! Today's choice was sushi. Then she found a table where she could eat.
On expeditions like this, she tried to be inconspicuous. But this was difficult for her, even under the best of circumstances. Some people couldn't help but notice her. One of these was the young man who cleared off the tables after people were finished with their food. As he passed her, his heavy tray of dishes kept going in one direction as his head snapped around almost involuntarily to look at her. The predictable crash ensued.
Some people nearby were put off by this. Some laughed as the boy got back to his feet, then started picking up the mess. She got up from her chair, went over and stooped to help him. She could tell that he was about to say that she didn't have to do that. It was true: she didn't have to, and she often wouldn't have. But their eyes had connected as he passed her. She could tell that this was all he would ever do in his life, and he was probably alone and lonely in the world. Offering a little help wouldn't hurt at all.
The young man was still stammering apologies. She looked at him, and he stopped. She touched his face briefly, and the confusion left his eyes for a moment.
It didn't take long for the two of them to get everything back onto the tray. He picked it up, and straightened up, smiling, knowing that what he was doing needed doing. As he walked away, she had a feeling that a young woman nearby had seen this. This young woman, wherever she was, was there with her family, was always with her family. Perhaps the young woman would come back another time, notice the young man again, and smile her quiet smile for him. Yes, she thought she would. In fact, she was certain of it now.
Returning to the shopping chore, she noticed a furniture store. Did her brother and his wife have comfortable chairs to sit on? Perhaps this was what she needed to get for him. There were many choices. Some of the chairs were elegant to look at, but uncomfortable to sit on. Some unfolded in interesting ways, in case one didn't want to get up before falling asleep in them. Once again, there was nothing here that seemed right.
Not far from the chairs, however, was something else that interested her. It was a full-length mirror on a stand, able to turn and tilt in many directions.
She thought about the mirrors she had at home. Several favored hand mirrors came to mind. And there was the larger one over her dressing table. But there were no mirrors in all of her hall like this, where she could see all of herself all at once. Standing in front of it, she turned this way and that. How had this obvious omission gone on so long, unnoticed? Here was something she truly needed to have.
The saleslady here was cold to her. Some women were like that. And the saleslady told her that, no, of course she couldn't take this particular mirror with her. She would have to go down to a place called Loading Dock and pick up one just like it, but in a box. Once she had it home, then she would have to assemble it. The saleslady asked if she thought she could do that.
Steven Thor Abell is a storyteller and the author of Days in Midgard: A Thousand Years On, a collection of original modern stories based on Heathen myths. As of 2013, he is also Steersman of the High Rede of The Troth.
Abell's column, "Letters from Midgard," is published on occasional Thursdays on the Pagan channel. Subscribe via email or RSS.