When the bells on the door dingled, it usually meant trouble. He wasn't sure what attracted these people to his tiny, narrow shop, shoved here in a cramped alley at the edge of the City’s
more fashionable district. Maybe there was a business card stuck in a hotel phone booth
somewhere. Maybe—although he found it hard to believe—it was word of mouth. Perhaps
they were merely lost and stumbled upon him. And lately he had heard of this thing called "Yelp." All he wanted to do was sit at his workbench and make watches, for he was a watchmaker, but it was the rings they came for, not the watches. True, his watches were made of cheese, but were they not the finest cheese watches made, and kept good time as long as they were kept chilled? Were they not sustainable and biodegradable? Were they not aromatic? But no, they came for rings, not watches. And so perhaps it was bitterness or disappointment that drove him to dissuade the ring buyers. Love! He exclaimed. Love is ephemeral. Love is a fraying rope. Love is a lost deer in the forest. Love is a cut flower in the sun. They would not be deterred. The younger they were, the more insistent they were. Sometimes, the older couples would pause, exchange glances, laugh nervously. It was rare, but occasionally customers were insulted and stormed out of his shop, slamming the door, although usually they bought the rings and went on their way, laughing, arm in arm, after which the jeweler would count the money in his till, dust the Stilton crumbs from his apron and return to his workbench. Love, he would murmur and shake his head. Love.
James Brunel has published short fiction in Linea and in The Portland Review. He lives in Western Massachusetts and sometimes in other places, no two ever at the same time. You can make him very happy by visiting his web site “Apropopolis" at jamesbrunel.com, where you can read more of his work.