There are times when you'll want to stop, she said, 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 question 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 later time. 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 this time, 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 the ring.

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 visit.

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 picked up.

Hello, I've lost my key, I was hoping to get a new one.
How did that happen?
To be honest I'm not sure. I stopped in this danish shop —
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.

11th. 12th. 14th.

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.

1405. 1403. 1401.

1256. 1252.

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 the nerve—
I can't find 13th.
You what?
I can't find 13th. You said the shop was on 13th and Watermore.
What shop?
The shop, the one you were asking about. The one without danishes.
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.