Dreamtime (Part One)

I was reborn two years ago, in a shop on Smithdown Road in Liverpool, a little way down from where the old hospital used to be. It was a dark, crowded little place; at least it appeared so from the outside. The window, dusty and dirty, was cluttered with objects which couldn’t be seen clearly by anyone standing on the pavement. The sign over the door, chipped and peeling of course, said simply: “Book Emporium” in faded gilt letters, and yes we did sell books … amongst other things.

Occasionally, if the mood took him, the owner would set out bits and pieces of bric-a-brac and sticks of lopsided furniture on the pavement. This eccentric technique failed to attract many customers and one of the other reasons for this, apart from the premise’s shabbiness, was that it wasn’t always there. Yes, it was one of those kind of shops.

Smithdown Road is crammed with small businesses, selling all kinds of things. It’s a bustling kind of place, so who’s going to notice if a small, dingy shop front isn’t always where it should be? Only a special sort of person would really see it in the first place, and Katie Marigold Marrow was just that kind of girl.

I first noticed her when she came into the shop, whether by design or accident, I don’t know. The bell over the door jangled, waking up the miniature dragon that slept there; it flew off in a huff.

small dragon

I raised my head from inside the basket I was currently using as a bed, and saw a tall, gangly female step cautiously through the doorway. She gazed around, eyes wide and mouth open, at the plethora of goods hanging from the ceiling. They also crowded every available surface, and filled most of the floor space in a glorious jumble. Her gaze settled on a bookcase, crammed with tomes: leather bound, paper backs, hard backs, all (literally) jostling for position.

Squeaks of protests issued from the shelves, as the weightier books shoved the slimmer volumes aside. I noticed, as I continued to watch the girl, that she seemed unfazed by this activity. She even stepped closer and stretched out a hand to pick one of them up; an unwise move in my opinion. A copy of How to control your library gnashed its covers and flapped its pages at her, again disturbing the dragon, which had taken refuge there; Katie Marigold hastily withdrew.

dragon book
‘There’s no need to be so nasty,’ she said, glaring at the recalcitrant book. ‘I only wanted some advice.’
‘Shove it!’ the book snapped back, and shuffled along the shelf out of reach.

The owner, Edward, bespectacled and white bearded, wandered out onto the shop floor from the back office where he spent most of his time. ‘Can I help you?’ he said, reaching under his flat cap to scratch his bald head, as if bemused by her presence.

world 3

She opened her mouth to reply, when one of the many tiny universes that populated the shop, floated into view. It hovered above her, the light from its orbiting twin moons illuminating her face and highlighting her wonder. Its surface was pock marked with land masses, and swirling mists of blue and green revealed pinpricks of light, before they were once again hidden. Her attention was then diverted by a flock of star swallows, as they flew past, their silver feathers and star filled eyes illuminating the shop for a few seconds. I gnashed my teeth and wiggled my bottom, ready to leap at the irritating birds, but they spotted me and disappeared into a nearby cupboard.

Katie Marigold clasped her hands in delight. ‘This is the right place,’ she breathed; she turned her attention to Edward and gazed at him as though he was the most handsome man in the world.

‘The right place for what?’ he asked in a grave tone and regarded her cautiously over the top of his glasses.

Again she clasped her hands and her smile almost lit up the shop as brightly as those pesky birds. ‘This is the place where I can find my way home,’ she said.


To be continued… dove




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