Saturday Short: The Old Print Shop

photograph of an old print shop in a dilapidated building that has been boarded upClaire stood in front of the shop with her fists on her hips, glaring up at the broken window on the second story of the shop. This was not what she had been expecting when she purchased–sight unseen–the “quaint, village print shop in need of a new owner, a true diamond in the rough” from the advertisement posted on the printing forum. The seller had said it was a venerable old shop with plenty of business, but that the owner could no longer maintain the presses and wanted to retire somewhere warm year-round. It seemed like good fortune was finally smiling on her.

Now it looked like it was laughing.

Claire pulled out the photo that she’d been sent and held it in front of her at arm’s length. It had to be taken more than a decade ago. She shoved the key into the lock and held her breath as she winced at the squeal of the door’s hinges. When she finally stopped coughing from the dust, Claire gasped. She closed her eyes and opened them again to make sure she wasn’t hallucinating. The scene in front of her didn’t change and she began to grin, then laugh as she ran around the shop like a child given a chocolate factory.

An hour later, the soft whir of a flywheel and clank of a turning press could be heard from the sidewalk along with snippets of humming from a woman who’d finally found a printing home and whose fortune seemed to like a good laugh, but ultimately had a heart, too.