The shopkeeper shuffled to the back of the store, climbed the wooden stairs which filled the narrow corridor on their own, and returned with a tiny, curious, wooden box. Little Miss Hobbs knew the importance of not discrediting the potential immensity of objects whose housings appeared minute, but after her bout in the antique store, she was reluctantly, cautiously pessimistic.
His bright eyes contrasted the surrounding dark skin as he looked at her with childish candor, and slid the box across the glass countertop to her. She returned the gaze with a mirrored enthusiasm, completely unaware that she now resembled a hopeful adventurer only just beginning their quest. Slowly, she lifted the hinged lid and revealed a plain, dingy, pewter pocketwatch whose chain had kinks, scratches, and other such mars, but whose shell remained smooth and unscathed. Genuinely enamored by antiquity, she marveled at it for a few moments, turning it over in her palm. It was heavy and cold, weighed down by the experiences it undoubtedly saw at one point in its lifetime.
“Oh man, this is gorgeous,” she said with a twinge of reservation, “but I’m not certain I can afford such a treasure. How did you come by this? Did someone sell it to you?” His eyes lit up all the more at her inquiry and the corner of his lip curled all the more with each subsequent word. “It was the first pocketwatch I ever made many years ago when my grandfather, a good and proper watchmaker, taught me the art of patience and endurance. You’ll notice it is altogether plain and worn, and if your ear is tuned well to it, you’ll further notice it is just a half-tick too fast when the spring is fully wound, and a half-tick too slow as it unwinds, rendering it fairly useless at keeping the time unless wound fully every thirty-three and a quarter hours (it took me years to find the precisely correct interval), and even then, it is only correct once every day and a half or so, which is a shame as even completely broken clocks tell the correct time twice per day. As for the price, shall we round it down to five dollars?”
“Oh man! Sir, I can’t even begin the thought of taking such a precious memory from you, especially at such low compensation!” He chuckled as he replied, “Little Miss, it is mine to give at whatever price I choose, and your need certainly exceeds mine. Compensation is much more than monetary, and the spark in your heart and eyes must never go as dim as they were when you first walked in here, my dear. I’d like to return that to you, if I may. That is ‘compensation’ enough for me.” “Oh man, okay, thank you so much. Oh man, I can’t even express…”
“No need. Just remember that if at first it doesn’t sound the way you need it to, just rearrange the furniture… Which reminds me – take a listen before we make this a done deal.”