Today’s excerpt is a continuation from last week’s. My novel-in-progress, A Handful of Wishes, is about a kid, Zeke, who has a wish-granting genie, Paribanu. In this scene, eight-year-old Zeke is being chased by a gang of bullies. He darts into a second-hand shop full of junk, and the shopkeeper, Cornelius Zwyklychski (pronounced Zwick-lich-ski – from the Polish word for ordinary), invites him to stay.
Last week, Cornelius introduced himself as “a repairer of dreams.” Here, he’s picked up a dirty old embroidered pillow sitting in the back room of his shop and is telling Zeke about it.
“Someone made this pillow, perhaps as a Christmas present for her father, and worked hard on it, staying up late into the night to finish it, but two days before the holiday she discovered her father had a mistress, so in a rage she tried to destroy the pillow, punishing it as a surrogate for her father, but she quickly lamented this decision, as she realized that she could have given it as a present to her mother instead, perhaps as a means of consoling the dear, heartbroken woman. The damage was done, however, and now the pillow became a reminder of both her and her father’s folly, so she threw it into the yard, the better to be rid of it rather than see it around her house or that of her parents. It being a well-constructed pillow, it was retrieved by a passing hobo and was used for many years as he traveled the countryside, as it reminded him of the upscale New York farm upon which he had spent a cheerful boyhood, before joining the ranks of the traveling vagrants in our fair country.”
“Golly, sir, you can tell all that by looking at a pillow?”
“No, this pillow was made in a factory, if the small tag in the corner is to be believed, and with a little stitching and a good washing should be serviceable again. But perhaps that poor creature will come into my shop some day, see the item, and derive a bit of joy from it.”
“So you sell junk, but you make up stories about it?”
“One man’s onion is another man’s water lily, my dear boy.”
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