Author's Note: Hi, I'm sorry it's been so long. But here's chapter 4! By the way, for those of you who had read this story before, I have removed the "Evanescence" bit, so the whole story has sort of shifted along, so YOU MAY NEED TO GO BACK AND READ CHAPTER 3 (which wasn't up before).
Moments slugged by as Karen stared at the message on her phone. There was no identification to the message; it said 'Number withheld'. She thought to herself: maybe Nicole did send the text, but accidentally withheld her own number? Now what is the likelihood of that happening? Karen then thought, maybe Nicole just used someone else's phone whose number her one could not recognise? Yes that's it, the teenager reassured herself; her cousin received the message but could not reply using her own phone because there was something wrong with it so she borrowed a friend's…
NO! If her phone was not functioning properly, she would be unable to receive messages!
Karen bit her lip and frowned. At that moment the most obvious answer occurred to her. Someone else had sent the message. Most likely, it was a wrong number; a message intended for someone else. If the number had not been withheld, she would call whoever it was and enquire personally.
Karen looked up, grinning rather embarrassedly to herself for getting so agitated, as a van rolled by, splashing through a puddle. She told herself; Nicole was probably still writing her reply!
She looked down at the puddle.
The signboard of the antiques shop winked at her in the reflection.
A weird chill rattled her spine as she looked across the road at the shop. This cannot have been a coincidence. Someone else had sent the message. Somebody else wanted her to visit this particular place. Somebody else knew…
A gentle wind swept up some dying autumn leaves. Karen saw them swoop and twirl, skip onto the road, and then flop on the concrete.
And there was the antiques shop. Karen still had the twenty pounds. It seemed that it would be stupid not to go in and have a look around. Maybe it was no coincidence that she had gotten the message telling her to enter. Again, Karen glanced down at her phone, which was still grasped in her hand,
and began to cross the road.
A bell tinkled from somewhere towards the back of the room as she pushed the door open, and Karen had to blink a moment or two for her eyes to adjust to the gloomy semi-darkness in which she stood. The shop was not particularly big; it was as deep as about two living-rooms and had rather a low ceiling, from which hung pale orange lamps on golden chains. These shook slightly whenever the door opened, so eerie shadows flickered and danced from the junk that sat piled up on shelves. There were three narrow aisles ahead of her whose shelving units stretched up to the ceiling, and the casher's desk stood at the back of the room opposite the shop entrance.
The noise of the traffic and pedestrians outside was immediately drowned when the door swung closed behind her, and Karen took an apprehensive step forwards,
expecting to see something large and spectacular glitter before her eyes: the thing that someone had wanted her to buy, but this was not so. The place remained dull and quiet.
Then, a young man walked towards her from the leftmost aisle. 'Hello,' he cried warmly at her, 'are you after anything in particular?' He was fairly good-looking; tall with short, black hair and enchantingly brown eyes. His smile was so breathtaking that Karen felt her heart actually skip a beat.
'I'm supposed to be,' Karen wanted to say, but she held it back, unable to tear her gaze from his mystical eyes. Instead she replied with, 'Erm no, I'll just browse, if that's alright…'
The man graciously bowed his head, gesturing the shop with his left hand. 'By all means.'
By all means, Karen thought to herself as she smiled robotically and walked forwards, what a strange thing to say.
Minutes passed as she wandered around the shop, carefully examining the objects on display. There were mirrors, picture frames, lamps, watches, silverware, china… all the usual stuff one would expect to find in such a shop. Karen was beginning to get really bored and impatient as she reached the third aisle (she had made a snake-trek beginning with the first aisle on the left), and began to realise that the whole thing was probably a waste of time. She was just about to completely give up and leave, but as she started down the aisle towards the exit, her eyes immediately fell on something that was on an inconspicuous shelf beside the door.
It was a doll.
She walked towards it, slowly, staring at its hand-painted face.
It was beautiful.
Carefully, she picked the thing up, still not resisting staring into those twinkling, real-looking eyes. Her fingers fondled the golden, butter-curled curls; the pretty, scarlet lace dress. Karen's free hand then softly traced the smooth surface of the cheeks, admiring every inch of it.
Silly though it sounded, Karen felt wholly convinced that nothing in the world could make her happier at that moment in time, than cradling this doll in her arms like a child.
(this is meant for me)
She found a label, on which the thing's name was elegantly scribed, sewn onto the seam of the doll.
'Elizabeth,' Karen whispered, loving the sound of it, 'you are mine.'