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The Costume Shop
On the corner of Holly and Tenenbaum, nestled between a sandwich shop and retail giant, is a small, unassuming little store called ‘Candrew’s Costumes’. Candrew being the last name of Mathilde Candrew (who currently owns the place), widowed by Alan Candrew, who inherited the shop from his mother and father. There is a whole family tree (which includes understory, canopy, and emergent layers) that comes along with the shop, but it is rather dull. Moreover, anyways, it is not the point of the story.
The store’s exterior itself is rather plain. Just bricks and dust, with a small, hand-painted sign that shows the name of the place. However, its dull front is betrayed by its splendid interior. When you step foot inside, you are immediately greeted by dozens and dozens of costumes from eras long gone. Victorian dresses and suits, with their frills and Gothic details. Fifties taffeta dresses and gold brocade party outfits. Fur shawls from the thirties and tweed sports jackets from the sixties. Each costume lovingly sewn and so amazing that when you put them on you magically feel like you just stepped out of that era…
However, the magic is not in the costumes. No, the magic of Candrew’s truly lies in the little changing booth in the corner of the store.
Mr. Edwards was grumpy and in a hurry, like he often was. He checked his watch every minute and glared at it every five like it was the one responsible for making traffic slow to a crawl or had made the stoplights absolutely refuse to change. His face was flushed red and the wrinkles on his forehead were made deeper by his never-ending scowl. He stared angrily out the windows of his car at innocent people passing by with his beady eyes and silently judged them. I will stop describing him now, since I think you get the unpleasant picture of this man.
He parked his shiny red car and began to strut up Tenenbaum Street to the front of Candrew’s Costumes. He knocked three times, loudly. He then checked his watch, waited four minutes, then scowled at his watch again. Finally, Mathilde Candrew came to the door.
Mrs. Candrew is a lot like most old women you know, with white hair and wrinkles aplenty. She is also slightly batty, but overall a rather pleasant human being. Unless you know old women with youthful appearances who are sharp and cruel and dye their hair. Then she is not like the old women you know.
“Oh, hello, hello!” Croaked Mrs. Candrew, smiling up at the man. “Are you here to pick up a costume?”
Mr. Edwards walked past her. “Most certainly not,” he sniffed, completely unfazed by the shop’s beautiful outfits.
“Are you sure? We also have accessories, you know. That drab suit of yours sure could use a feather boa.” Mrs. Candrew replied, smiling and absentmindedly stroking her own hot pink feather boa.
Mr. Edwards turned crimson, thinking that the last thing he needed were neon feathers draped around his neck. “Ahem.” He cleared his throat, even if he did not need to. “I’m here on serious business, ma‘am. I’m from the bank and, as you know, you are very behind on paying your bills.” At this, he walked over to Mrs. Candrew’s office, which was really just a desk in the corner with a swivel chair. He pointed at the envelopes on the wooden surface, all bright colors with things like: “URGENT, READ AND REPLY IMMEDIATELY” emblazoned on them.
“Oh, really? I can’t remember even going to a bank.” She replied, looking at him with a blank expression.
“Humph, I’m surprised you remember what a bank is.” He muttered. He picked up the envelopes on the desk, slapping them against the wood as he said, “I’m bringing these to the bank as proof that you received these notifications. You will be sent a letter tomorrow regarding how much you owe us. And, if you cannot pay the sums, this shop will be closed the day after.” He smirked, rubbing his fingers over the envelopes. He truly loved his job.
Mrs. Candrew’s eyes suddenly got wider and sharper. She pulled at the sleeve of Mr. Edwards’s drab, desperately-in-need-of-a-boa suit and said, “What?! You cannot be serious! I have been the owner of this shop for sixty years. You can’t close it down, you absolutely cannot!”
Mr. Edwards rolled his eyes then pulled his arm away from the old woman. “Yeah? Name one reason this shop should not be closed. If it was up to me, you’d already be working at the deli next door.” He hissed.
Mrs. Candrew stared at him, contemplating his cruelty. He began to walk towards the door, humming a tune that sounded a lot like Chopin’s funeral march. Then Mrs. Candrew said something that made him stop dead in his tracks.
“You can’t close down this store, because it’s magical.” She pointed to the changing booth. “If you put on one of these costumes in the booth,” she gestured towards the wall where the costumes hung and the racks where others were folded, “and then walk out of it, you’ll end up in whatever era your costume is from.” She said this with her strongest voice, putting on the airs of a completely confident person whose costume shop was not about to be closed.
Mr. Edwards stopped. He turned around, eyes flashing and spluttered, “Magic? Magic?! Haha, dear lady, you truly are a piece of work.” He gave her a last condescending smirk and turned around. “I’ll be back in two days when you can’t pay.” He quickly exited the shop and sneered at it. He sneered at the costumes, the fur shawls and tweed jackets and taffeta dresses. He sneered at the crazy old woman who could not pay the rent. He sneered at the very idea of a magic changing booth. To him, the thought was simply ludicrous and all of ludicrous’s synonyms.
He turned at the corner and made his way back to his shiny red car and sped down the street into traffic once again, scowling at his watch all along the way.
Two days came and went, and Mrs. Candrew was unable to pay. So Mr. Edwards was back and ready to shut down the Candrews’ dream. He stood outside the store, picking a croissant out of his teeth and trying to hide his satisfied smirk as he entered the shop.
Nobody was there.
The shop was completely empty, not a soul in sight. The costumes hung lonely on the walls, waiting for the little old woman who would come and tend to their loose buttons and wrinkled fabric.
Mr. Edwards looked around angrily, mad that the Mrs. Candrew was not around so that he may enjoy seeing her dejected face as he forced her to pack up all of her belongings. He stomped around the room, wondering if she was hiding behind the racks or in the changing booth…
The changing booth.
He marched over to where it stood in its forgotten corner. It was rather normal in appearance, wooden with swinging doors. Anything but magical.
Mr. Edwards took the curtain in his hand and pulled it aside with much force, expecting to see the little old lady hiding behind it, but the only thing in it was a note that read:
“Dear Mr. Edwards,
Gone back to the twenties, where they appreciate a feather boa or two.