There are times when you'll want to stop,
and there are times when going on
seems like the only option.
I wasn't sure what she was talking about. I'd only come in the
shop, walked up to the counter, leaned my head around the corner
of the muffin display to ask her if they still had any danishes,
or if they were out for the day.
She'd came out of the back room, her hair a halo around her head,
muttering to herself, staring at her fingers. I'd asked my
Do you still have any danishes? and that's when
she said what she said.
There are times when you'll want to stop and there
are times when going on seems like the only option.
I didn't know what to do with that, so I just looked at her while
she stared at her fingers and wiggled them a little, like she was
counting something. She didn't look up. Eventually, I cleared my
throat and said
What? She barely shifted her head,
I'm presuming to indicate that she'd heard me but that whoever was
in her head was busy at the moment, and would return my call at a
Right — I said, and not seeing any
danishes in the displays, I turned to go.
That's when she grabbed me by the arm, her grip stronger than
anyone's I'd had the pleasure or pain to experience before. She
still didn't look me in the eyes, but at a spot just between them,
and slightly higher up. It gave me a headache. She said, louder
There are times when you'll want to
stop, and times when going on seems like the only option.
I tugged on my arm, desperate to get free from her grip. She was
really starting to freak me out. I said
Get off me you
old — but then she continued.
Neither feeling is right when it is felt. You must
continue when wanting to stop and stop when the only option is
to go forward. Think when acting seems best. Act when
caution seems wise. Whatever you do, do not listen to
yourself. Remember you don't know anything.
I wrenched my arm free from her grasp (could I only because
she'd loosened it?), turned on my heel, and ran from the shop as
quickly as I could. I ran down the block and turned the corner
and ignored the Don't Walk sign to run across traffic (honks
chorusing their disapproval) and I didn't stop running until I
reached my building's locked door where I fumbled through my
keys as quick as I could but couldn't find the one I needed.
I checked again. And again. The key to my building wasn't on
I hadn't taken my keyring apart for at least three months, not
since I switched to this new keyring that was purported to make
using your keys 150% easier. I began to panic just a little
bit but I thought
The only difference I've
experienced today, the day I've lost the key to my
building, is that little shop that didn't have
danishes. So I decided to pay that little shop another
I ran back across the street (this time waiting for the cars to
pass and the walking man to flash), around the corner, down the
block and then — I walked into a poster on a brick wall
advertising The Better You. The little shop was gone.
Maybe I'd lost my way. I had been in quite the hurry after the
lady behind the counter had so disturbed me. I hadn't been paying
attention to where I was going. I'd rushed across the street
— twice! — and I hadn't thought to note the name of
the shop on either my entrance or my exit.
I tried shaking my head to rid my mind of the doom-cloud sitting
above it and called my landlord. The phone rang twice and she
Hello, I've lost my key, I was hoping to get a new
How did that happen?
To be honest I'm not sure. I stopped in this danish
Oh, the one on 13th and Westmore?
I looked up at the street corner's signs. I was on 12th and
Westmore — so I had misremembered the shop's location! I hung
up without answering my landlord and walked briskly down the
street toward 13th.
I passed 14th Street. Oops. I was really turned around today.
I turned back and began walking toward 13th.
I passed 12th, then 11th. Wait a moment. I turned around again
and walked back down from where I came.
I caught my breath. It was rising in my chest to something
resembling a sob. I wasn't sure what to do. My coat seemed to
tighten around me. The wind blew colder. I turned up my collar
and walked backward — slowly — up the block, watching the
numbers on the buildings.
Where were the 1300s? Where was 13th?!
My phone buzzed in my pocket. I wasn't sure how long it had
been buzzing for or if it had just started. I pulled it out and
looked at the screen. My landlord. I answered the call and put
the phone up to my ear.
I can't believe you just hung up on me, of all
I can't find 13th.
I can't find 13th. You said
the shop was on 13th and
The shop, the one you were asking about. The one
No, I said 13th and
Westmore. 13th ends before Watermore.
Now do you want your key copied or —
I don't know what else she said because I was off again, this
time toward 14th. I'd have to walk up
14th to Westmore, then
down the block to 13th, and there I'd be. It's funny, I
thought, I don't remember going all the way around these blocks
and all, before.
I turned the corner at 14th and walked with purpose. I knew
this part of the city. The streets were in alphabetical
order, so they were very easy to remember; besides, I'd lived
here for five years, I should think I'd know my way around.
I've just been having trouble sleeping, that's all. Nothing
really to worry about. I'm just a little scrambled. I'll just
go on down Westmore to 13th and grab my key from the freak lady
in the shop —
An empty lot yawned like a toothless old hag.
A fence protected its waste, but somehow some young tuff
had still managed to spraypaint a curseword artfully
on the dirty brick wall.
My mouth agape, I turned and looked toward the street.
My eyes tripped over a bench with a sleeping figure.
I sat down next to it in silence.
I waited a long time.
The figure stirred in its sleep — in her sleep, I realized,
as she sat up and yawned like a cat,
completely unaware of her surroundings.
In HER sleep, I realized suddenly,
it was the woman from the shop!
I let out a yelp of surprise.
Slowly she pivoted her head on her neck and looked at me.
What's wrong with you, son?
You — you're her —
Yes, I'm certainly me. Who're you?
You're her — from the store —
She got up to go.
I grabbed her arm —
Let go of me! she screamed.
You were in the store, you told me you didn't have danishes,
or rather you didn't say anything about danishes but you said
I don't know what you're talking about!
She tugged herself out of my grip and ran down the street.
I laid down on the bench where she'd been and new only to cry.
My phone buzzed some more in my pocket.
I knew it was my landlord, angry about my hanging up on her,
but ready somewhere with a new key.
She was a really good landlord, I've got to give her that.
I sat up and turned around to look at the empty lot without any danishes.
Except — there was a danish where I hadn't seen it before,
underneath the curseword spraypainted on the wall.
Next to it was one word: STOP.