I blinked repeatedly. “Yes, I believe that sounds familiar. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.”
“You’re welcome. Well, okay, don’t freak out, but here’s the thing. That dude you fell in love with? He’s across the street in the voodoo shop.”
My body shot around, and I saw Tristan standing in the store with Mr. Henson. My heart skyrocketed from my chest to my throat, and I could feel my body tingling with nerves.
“You’re freaking out,” she said.
I shook my head. “I’m not.”
“You’re freaking out,” she repeated.
I nodded. “I am.” My voice trembled. “What is he doing here?”
“I think you should go find out,” Faye said. “You deserve an answer for all of those damn Post-It notes.”
She was right. I needed to know. I needed closure. I needed to move on by letting go of any hope that he would someday come back for me—because I was definitely still waiting.
“Matty, Liz is taking a lunch break,” Faye shouted.
“She just got here! And it’s breakfast time!” he replied.
“Fine. She’s taking a breakfast break.”
“No way. She’s working her whole shift.” Faye started humming “Spice Up Your Life” by the Spice Girls, and Matty’s face turned beet red. “Take all the time you need, Liz.”
I pulled up to Mr. Henson’s shop and hurried inside. He’d called me the day before and had sounded very distressed, telling me the shop was closing due to issues with the town asshole. I knew Tanner had something to do with it, and I knew Mr. Henson was probably falling apart. I had to check on him to see how I could help—after all, he had been one of the first to be there for me when I was completely lost.
When I walked into Needful Things, my eyes widened when I saw Mr. Henson packing up the store. It was as if everything magical about the place was gone. All the shelves emptied. All the mysterious items boxed away.
“What the heck is going on?” I said, moving toward Mr. Henson.
“Tanner is getting his wish. I’m closing down shop.”
“What? I thought you called me here to try to figure this out.” My fingers ran though my hair. “You can’t close up shop. Did he do this at the town hall meeting? He can’t do this!”
“It doesn’t matter, Tristan. I already sold the shop.”
“To who? I’ll get it back. Whatever it takes. Who did you sell it to?”
“The town asshole.”
“Tanner can’t have this shop. You can’t let him win.”
“I wasn’t talking about Tanner.”
“Then who were you talking about?”
He turned my way and took my hand, placing a set of keys in my grasp. “You.”
“It’s yours, every inch, every square,” Mr. Henson sang.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well,” he said, sitting on top of one of the boxes. “I’ve lived my dream. I’ve seen the magic this place can create. Now it’s time I give it to someone else who needs a little magic in their life. Someone who needs a little dreaming.”
“I’m not taking your shop.”
“Oh, but see, that’s the beauty in all of it. You are taking it. It’s already yours. I set up all of the paperwork. All you have to do is cross a few t’s and dot a few i’s.”
“What would I even do with it?” I asked.
“You have a dream, Tristan. The furniture that your father and you create would get a ton more people into this space than my old crystals ever did. Don’t let anyone ever kill your dreams, my boy.” He pushed himself up from his box, moved over to the counter, and picked up his hat. Placing it on his head, he began walking toward the front door.
“What about you? What are you going to do?” I asked, watching him open the front door, sounding the bell overhead.
“As for me, well, I’m going to go find a new dream, because you’re never too old to dream a little dream, to discover a little magic. I hear there are rumors going around that the town might need some repairs, and I have a few dollars lying around. We’ll chat through the details later on, but for now, I’ll be seeing you.” He winked, walking out the door.
I moved to the store door and opened it fast, glancing in the direction Mr. Henson had disappeared in.
My mind started to wonder if he was some kind of weird hallucination, but when I looked down at the keys in my hands, I knew he was real.
“What are you doing here?”
I turned around to see Elizabeth standing behind me, her arms crossed. “Lizzie,” I muttered, almost stunned to see her standing so close. “Hi.”
“Hi?” She huffed, barging into the store. I followed her inside. “Hi?!” she shouted. “You disappear for months, not giving me a chance to explain myself, and then randomly show up in town, and all you can say is ‘hi’? You’re a…you’re a…a DICK!”
“Lizzie,” I said with narrowed eyes, stepping toward her. She stepped back.
“No. Don’t come near me.”
“Because whenever you’re near me, I can’t think straight, and I need to think straight right now to say what I need to say.” She stopped talking and took a moment to look around the store. “Oh my gosh. Where is everything? Why is it all boxed away?”
I placed my thumb between my teeth and studied her features. Her hair was longer, lighter too. She was makeup free, and her eyes still had the ability to make me fall in love with her. “You stayed with her.”