There was no one there, I thought. The shop walls were lined with wonderworks and an island of efficacious products occupied the central floor space. Customers could walk between the shelves in a circular route, dazzled by abundance. There would be something worthwhile and thirst quenching in this place. I stepped in, beginning my curious study on the right hand aisle. I knew there would be staff, of course, imagined that something of import had to be fetched or a kettle to be switched for boiling up water, leaving the counter empty for a short while. Meanwhile, there was no one there but me, I thought.
Too abruptly and too close a face appeared and asked: 'Can I help you?'
Were my nerves not steely I may have shrieked. I was reading shampoo ingredients, though this was not the main purpose of my visit. I put the bottle back on the shelf unashamed. I was being distracted because I was paying attention to my immediate world. Great art and happiness can stem from that meandering root. One cannot be ashamed of it, if one is to be a happy artist. I opened my mouth with confidence.
'I was thirsty so I wanted something to drink. Not shampoo, I was just looking at that.'
She frowned and stared before she remembered to be helpful. She had a strained look, like she was trying to remember some staff training guidance. 'Something to help you sleep?'
'Er, no, just a drink to stop me being thirsty.'
She thought for a moment of how she could help with this. 'Chill cabinet's over there.'
The shop was barely two metres across. I could see the cabinet clearly. It was the only break in the shelf lines. There was only this circulatory route. I would be distracted perhaps but not lost on my travels.
'Thank you.' It would, howsoever, be unnecessary to appear churlish.
She escorted me regardless.
'Beetroot,' I said, lunging for the cold glass door. I got my own bottle and surreptitiously checked the seal. 'Thanks.'
As she reached out her hand to drop the coins of change into my open palm I saw briefly under her sleeve cuff. The human skin was a disguise: the real skin was a gleaming scaled green!
I resumed my stalk through the district's charity shops, and could not help but question my experience. One does like to invent stories for discarded objects and now also for suspicious assistants in health food outlets. An alien, I tell you. Tried yet failed to put me to sleep with a poisoned root vegetable beverage. Also this cup and saucer clearly and formerly belonged to an elf.