Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 3
Chapter 3 – Whispering Earrings
Riding the train, she arrived at Sakura Chuo Station, where the bookstore she worked for was located and waded through the crowds to access the staff entrance. Within, each store had its own staff room. Rei stepped into the staff room of “Books Honpo”, her workplace.
Books Honpo was a nationwide chain of bookstores, and Rei was the manager of this store, responsible for all aspects of sales management; ordering, training new employees, and employment of part-time workers.
With only two full-time employees, things get hectic and shifts have to be scheduled accordingly so as not to overlap each other. The opening time of the store was 8:00 a.m., so she stood in the store at 7:00 a.m. cleaning up, confirming reservations and new books, before opening the shutters.
The bookstore in the station had a steady stream of customers, but the majority of them were simply browsing to kill time. While making her rounds, she frequently inspected the books to ensure that the covers have not been torn off or the rubber-banded books have not been removed.
During the morning, she spent her time doing inventory, writing pop-ups, sweeping the store, and serving customers, and before she realized it, her shift ended with Sasaki, a part-timer who arrived in the afternoon. Rei took her lunch break and proceeded to the bakery in the station, where she bought the day’s recommended smoked cheese bread and walnut bread, leaving her alone in the staff room to finish her meal.
Once the meal was over, she slipped into a drowsy stupor. Her eyelids grew heavy and she closed her eyes for a moment to rest.
Suddenly, that sound played in her ears again.
In a daze of consciousness, a question surfaced to her mind, “What?”
This is my workplace, right?
Flap, flap, flap…
Flap, flap, flap, flap…
She opened her eyes in a panic.
There, in the cool, air-conditioned staff room, nobody was present. As her consciousness became clearer, the sound from earlier was no longer apparent.
What the heck is…?
Rei contemplated the source of the “shulushulu” noise, but could not conceive what it might be. Furthermore, the “ka-ha ” sound that was not heard yesterday sounded like a human voice, and the flapping sounded like the scraping of clothes or the tapping of something, but in any case, nothing was beyond comprehension.
Her break was ruined by the mysterious sound. At 3 p.m. after the lunch break, Tachibana Akane, a full-time employee, showed up for work.
“Good evening. Is there any matter to be taken over?”
“None for today.”
In another hour, it would be time for Rei to leave work. Although Tachibana was a junior to her in terms of when she joined the company, they were classmates in elementary and junior high school. Apparently, she was now a single mother living at home with her parents.
“Oh, those are lovely earrings. Did you acquire new ones?”
Rei rarely accessorized, thus Tachibana caught on immediately.
“Yeah. At an antique shop near Hosho Station.”
“Wow. I never knew there is an antique shop there. I would love to check it out.”
“I highly recommend it, but it only opens irregularly at night.”
“Is that so? That’s a unique store.”
“Walk along the Shukubamachi in front of Hosho Station toward the bridge, and at the end of the stone pavement between a coffee shop and a liquor store, you will see it.”
“Maybe I will go check it out on my day off.”
“It might be more likely to be opened after work.”
“My parents are taking care of the kids; I think I will go.”
“You should go.”
The remainder of her day was occupied by inventorying and organizing books, dusting, and serving customers, and in a flash, the time for the workday was up.
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