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Dreams to Spare

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Considering the store's mysterious reputation, it was surprisingly well lit. A tiny storefront blossomed into a sprawling labyrinth of jars and boxes. There were scented candles, bathing salts, colorful ointments, and unidentifiable goops. She picked up a glass bottle advertised as a love potion, though the contents seemed suspiciously similar to Kool-Aid. A voice rang out behind her, nearly startling her into dropping the bottle.
“Something you’re looking for?”
She gingerly placed the Kool-Aid back on the shelf and turned to face the young man standing behind her. He had bright blue eyes and raven black hair that was combed neatly out of his face.
“Oh, ah, yeah. I’m Dee? I called this morning…” She trailed off awkwardly. The shopkeeper’s cheery smile morphed into a knowing smirk. “Oh, you wanted something…” He raised his eyebrows. “… special.”
Dee nodded wordlessly.
The storekeeper motioned for Dee to follow him through the winding shelves. He called over his shoulder, “You can call me Luke, by the way.” Dee nodded absentmindedly, forgetting that his back was to her. Nothing more was said. Finally, Luke pushed an unmarked swinging door open and ushered Dee into the next room. This room was not unlike the first: tall shelves packed with mysterious packages in all sorts of shapes and colors. The only difference, Dee realized, was that this room was even more ludicrous than the first. There were rows of bottles filled with cloudy water labeled “Sadness”, seemingly empty jars labeled “Inspiration”. Each shelf she saw had equally peculiar products on it. She looked around the room with disbelief. Luke raised a single eyebrow in amusement.
“Oh come on, you’ve made it this far, Dee. At least take a look around. What did you come here for, again? You needed a little success?”
Dee visibly deflated. “I… yeah. Everything’s been falling apart lately…” she scowled. “But I don’t know how you can help me with that with-” She gestured irately to the shelves towering above her. “With all of this. I’m sorry I wasted your time,” she added, turning to go.
“That’s what Jenn said at first, too.”
Luke’s words stopped Dee. She turned around slowly.
“Your friend Jennifer Lucas?”
“How did you—“
Luke barreled on, ignoring the half-formed question. “Right, the woman who became mayor even though she was clearly unqualified?”
Dee remained silent, regarding the storekeeper, who now motioned to a row of small paper boxes. “That,” he said, “was good old ‘Persuasiveness’ here. And how about Marky Wilson who won that singing competition?”
Dee snorted. “He was tone deaf up until the day of the auditions. I didn’t think he could actually sing.”
Luke smiled. “He couldn’t.” He pointed to a shelf of miniature baggies filled with a shimmery blue powder. The tag on each bag had “Talent” written in loopy handwriting.
Dee’s suspicion slowly dissolved into a mixture of fear and awe. The change must have been visible on her face, for Luke’s smile widened. “Trust me,” he stated, pulling a small glass vial off of a nearby shelf, “I can help you.” He tossed it to her. “I’ve got dreams to spare, after all.”
The vial was no bigger than her thumb and was filled with a sparkling amber liquid. “Success” was printed on the tag. Dee regarded the vial for a long time, turning it in her hand over and over again. Without looking up, she asked, “How much is it?”
Luke waved his hand as if brushing the question straight out of the air. “Oh, I’ll cut you a deal since I like you,” he said with a smile.
But Dee wasn’t really listening. Each time she turned the vial over, another word entered into her mind: Second chance. Redemption. Success. She had been given everything she could have ever wanted or needed, but had squandered it all on empty promises and half-dreamt desires. Her future looked dark, to say the least. She had let everyone down, but this… this was how she could turn it all around. Suddenly she looked up, meeting Luke’s calculating gaze.
“I’ll take it.”
“Excellent,” he crooned, gliding over to a desk in the back of the room. She followed him, her eyes glued to the liquid gold in her palm as Luke filled out the paperwork.
“O-ok,” he said, snapping her trance. “Sign here… and here…”
She acquiesced, slipping the vial into her purse. Moving to get her wallet, she asked, “Okay, Luke, how much do I owe you?”
Luke, however, did not respond. He was dragging a giant chest out from under the desk. He opened it carefully and removed a single, unmarked, empty glass bottle from a nearby shelf. Dee took a step forward and peered into the chest. There were stacks of those bottles, each one filled with a colorful gas. There were pinks, silvers, purples, greens- but each color seemed strangely muted in the chest that swallowed them up. A name had been written on the lid of each glass container. Here was Jennifer, Mark… Dee took a step back. Her eyes flew up to Luke, who was back at the desk, writing Dee’s name on the empty bottle.
“Luke…” Dee began, painfully aware of how her voice shook. “What’s that chest for?”
He slowly turned to her, his blue eyes suddenly very cold.
“I don’t trust the bank with these ones,” he replied, tapping a bottle. “So this is where I keep my payments.” He nonchalantly picked up the papers Dee had signed and tucked them into a desk drawer.
“Your payments?”
A wicked grin split his face.
“The souls.”

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Imaginedangerous This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 21, 2013 at 9:13 pm
I like this one. Great ending!
AveryJewell This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 24, 2013 at 10:59 pm
Thanks so much!
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