She had the radio turned down low so she could hear the door if a customer came in, but no one had been in since Mrs McIntyre had left several hours before. Mrs McIntyre was a nice woman to work for, but Glory couldn’t bring herself to call the old woman Paige, even though she’d worked in her used bookstore for just over five years. Paige’s Used Bookstore was a local fixture… it had been in business for over two hundred years, started by Mrs McIntyre’s great, great grandmother. Though people assumed that Mrs McIntyre’s name was Paige, it was really Susan. Everyone but Glory called her Paige. (She had never heard anyone call her Susan.) Mrs McIntyre often teased her only employee that she was more old fashioned than anyone she knew from the Senior Center.
It was already dark outside, but Glory wouldn’t close up shop until nine, customers or no. Mrs McIntyre always paid her an hourly wage that had nothing to do with how few hours she actually worked, but that didn’t mean she would slack off. In many ways, Mrs McIntyre had practically adopted Glory. At the very least they were kindred spirits, and Mrs McIntyre always said that bookworms had to stick together. She had a lot of respect and affection for her boss. Glory wouldn’t close the store until nine, and in the meantime, she could listen to the radio and read as much as she liked.
She leaned against the counter, scanning through a book on Egyptian magic to see if it was worth taking home. Mrs McIntyre also teased her for her singular fixation on mythology and mysticism. That was not to say that Glory wouldn’t read anything else, but she did tend go for books that dissected cultures long dead, rather than more contemporary works. Discovering some new factoid always left her excited and eager to incorporate it into her book. Though she was only twenty-two, her study of ancient cultures and the esoteric knowledge they’d left behind was a puzzle she had been unlocking for over a decade. Or perhaps recreating would be a better word. The more she understood of the belief systems of the ancient world, the more correlation she found even among the most disparate cultures. She wove each new idea among the others she had collected over the years and these in turn spawned new possibilities… magical possibilities.
Not that she had ever tried any of the things she had learned or crafted in her book. Even though Glory felt compelled to compile and create new rituals from the fragments of the old, she had no compulsion to use any of them. It was one grand riddle to be explored, a pattern to be refined. It was art and her only joy in life. It didn’t matter that magic was something few people took seriously or that her syllogisms were about as practical to every day life as string theory. In Sybar City’s technology saturated culture, her “hobby” was nothing of any interest to most people, and the people who were interested… well, she’d just as soon not have anything to do with them.
Her research satisfied some need in her that interaction with her fellow man did not. Glory found people to be completely frustrating, but the magics and rituals of the ancient world fell right into place for her like the pieces of puzzle. Working her way through the words and thoughts of people long dead was infinitely more satisfying than interacting with the living. For one thing, they couldn’t argue with her, insult her, or make demands.
She sighed with disappointment as the book casually mentioned Pharaoh Nectanabus without giving any specifics, but kept reading. An Evanescence song came on the radio, and she began singing along in a quiet, sweet voice, which ended in a startled squawk.
“You have a beautiful voice.”
“Where did you come from?” She practically shrieked, standing up straight.
“Well…. most people probably come through the door,” the young man replied with an obnoxious grin, pointing to the front of the store.
“I- I meant, I thought I was alone.” Glory glared at him suspiciously, but he just smirked and shrugged. For the most part, she didn’t really care about people, one way or another. There were, however, a few notable exceptions. Case in point…
“So…. When will you go out with me?” he asked for what must have been the hundredth time.
“You keep asking me that!” She growled through gritted teeth. He’d been coming in for over a month now, asking if she’d go out with him. He claimed they’d gone to school together, and he seemed the right age, but she couldn’t place him. And she was really getting tired of his perseverance. Her sister probably wouldn’t have had a problem saying yes to a complete stranger, but she was nothing like her twin, no matter how much they looked alike.
“And you keep saying no, so say yes, and I can stop asking.” He smiled and she frowned.
“Why do you even want to go out with me? You don’t even know me. I don’t remember you from school at all.” Not that she hadn’t put him through his paces in so far as classes and teachers went, but he seemed to be on the level.
“That’s the whole point of people going out, getting to know each other. So… wanna go out? Tonight maybe? I can pick you up after work. I promise if you don’t have a nice time, I’ll take you home immediately!” His earnestness was beginning to wear her down. She’d be the first to admit though, that the idea of being asked out was so alien to her, that his persistence had become as intriguing as it was annoying.
She continued to frown, then sighed. Maybe if she said yes, he’d settle for one ‘date,’ and she could finally be rid of him. “Fine, but if I agree to go out with you tonight, you’ll leave me alone after this. Okay?”
“Unless after tonight you fall madly in love with me and decide one date’s not enough.” he replied with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Was he really that full of himself?
“Uh huh…” Glory replied without comment, watching his triumphant walk to the door.
“I’ll see you later then,” he said with a wave.
Walking down the street to his car, Aaron fishing out his keys and his phone. “Good news… yeah,” he said as he turned the key in the ignition. “She finally said yes. So how long do you want me to keep her out…? Till one it is then.” He smiled as he flipped his phone closed and tossed it onto the seat beside him.