The Empty Shop

Every writer does it. We see something ordinary and let our imaginations wander….


In a country town it’s not unusual to find small mom-and-pop stores. These are often managed by one or two people. Often the proprietors themselves do tje work, acting as Jack-of- all- trades in their establishment.


It may not at all unusual to walk into one of these stores and find no one behind the counter. If you’re like me, you’re probably used to going to the same store; so you know the proprietor and you call out a greeting, making them aware that you’re there. Or there might be a bell or some kind of system that lets them know somebody has entered. You’ll usually hear a response rather quickly, followed by the appearance of the clerk.

hotel reception

But what happens when you walk into one of these small stores you call it your greeting and you hear nothing? There’s nobody in the back room getting new packages that recently arrived. There’s no note on the counter saying “be back in 5 minutes”, and there’s no car or other vehicles in the parking lot. Except for yours.

You can glance at your watch and realize that you’re a couple minutes before opening time. Maybe they forgot to lock up the night before, and you actually beat them in this morning. Or maybe it’s something more sinister. Did they arrived and had to leave either of their own free will or forcibly?

Your mind begins to think of all sorts of scenarios. Picking up your phone, you’re ready to call the police. Concern for the owners is overwhelming your own fear. Hearing nothing when you call out a second time, you start to work your way back towards the back office or the stockroom. Each step is hesitant, wondering if you’re putting yourself in danger.

But you know you have to check out all possibilities. What if somebody’s there and they’re hurt? Each step is taken with hesitation, looking over your shoulder and listening before you take the next step. Then, just before you reached the stockroom you hear the chime behind you and the door opens.

Twisting to see what is going on, you listen for another sound. Is someone arriving in response to a silent alarm you may have set off? Or something worse?

Then you hear the friendly voice of the owner, apologizing for not being there to welcome you.  You feel the tension leave your shoulder. Your heart is still pumping fast from all the adrenaline that has kept you going. You smile a weak smile and offer a good morning, pretending that nothing happened. After all you don’t want your wild imagination scaring the owner.


Do you ever let your imagination scare you?


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