Image courtesy of Growinnc via an attribution license on Flickr Creative Commons (Attribution Link)
Elaine walked into the shop with a purposeful stride. It looked like one of those little curio shops common on beach-town streets. She expected to find balls made of colorful blown glass, fish-themed art by a local artist, tin signs with sayings that seem clever if you've never seen them before. Usually, these shops were a good place to pick up a "I thought of you on my vacation" present for her mother, a tee shirt or a mug with the name of the town and some flowers maybe. The Georgia O'Keeffe quote on the door made her hope the shop might swing more towards arty than kitschy.
Elaine was two full strides into the shop before she looked up and saw the young woman seated on a platform. She was sitting on a stool, with her ankles primly crossed. This struck Elaine as strange, given that she was otherwise nude. The woman waved and smiled.
"The door, darlin.'"
Elaine jumped. "What?"
"The door. Maggie's getting chilled. Close the door and come inside." Elaine obeyed, then peered into the darker recesses of the shop in search of the voice. There was waft of smoke from behind the counter. Maggie didn't know whether to walk out or ask for a light. It had been more than a decade since she'd someone smoking in a public place. She hesitated in the doorway.
"Do you draw?" The voice was scratchy, dark, more suggestive of bars and backrooms than of art shops or tourist-bilking. Something in the voice made her feel warm.
"Not for years," Elaine admitted, surprised at the wistfulness in her tone. "I was just looking for a gift, for my mother, before I have to go back home."
The woman stood, pushing a sketch pad across the counter with work-worn hands in fingerless gloves. "You know, a mother always likes to get something her children have made."
Elaine brushed her fingers across the pad, then looked back at the model, now curved around herself in a pose reminiscent of a Degas painting. "Do you have an extra pencil?"
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