“Bernald’s Bottled Emotions.” it read. The store itself looked like, to many, a blot on the landscape.
It seemed like it was forcibly squashed between two of its neighboring buildings. She pushed the old wooden door as it let out a lengthy, seemingly endless screech. Her hands then slowly ran down its paint-chipped wooden surface.
As she entered the shop, she immediately caught a mix of warm fire, nutmeg and cinnamon which mixed together perfectly to create a cozy scent of pure comfort. Around her were bottles and bottles of bottled glowing orbs which, when she past by individually, each created a different atmosphere. Her feet then stumbled across the creaky wooden floor to the front desk. Assuming no one was there, she continued staring at the shelves of glowing orbs.
“My! Good afternoon to you, young lady!” yelled a man that popped out of the bottom of the front desk carrying more bottles of glowing orbs, each a different colour between his arms, a trustful smile plastered on his face.
“Hello, sir.” She said, her voice not falling and rising in pitch. Her face, emotionless.
“Oh uh…sorry I startled you. I think. I was just collecting a few more bottles of emotions from under the counter to put up on the shelves.”
He said as he gestured to a empty section of one of his top shelves. “So how may I be of assistance today?” He added.
“A bottle of joy, please.” She replied.
“One bottle of joy coming right up! It’s a bestseller! And…might I add, a customer favourite!” said the bubbly man as he clicked his heels together in pursuit of the girl’s order.
For Bernald, it was not rare to get these orders. He owned a bottled emotion shop downtown where he wished that there would be a second chance for people now to be human again. To be able to feel emotions. Although he tried his best, he hoped one day people would be able to step out of it on their own.
As the day came to an end, Bernald placed the remaining bottles up onto the shelf and packed up, getting ready to leave. He closed the paint-chipped door of his cozy, humble business.
Walking alone, along the streets of his city, he stumbled on the uneven pavement highlighted with ungroomed grass. He looked at his surroundings. Merely a collection of buildings, roads laid out for a queen that will never come. The only lights are those hidden deep within the rooms produced by screens that hypnotize. With every gust of wind, Bernald is hit with a wave of unsettling solitude and grief. His footsteps echoed like ripples in a lake.
A generation ago these streets were rivers of people, night and day but right now, he was the only beating heart. The only being of warm blood and flesh. Everyone else was simply a shell of skin, their existence just another pair of eyes glued to a screen.
For all this time, Bernald always had a question that weighed him down like a ship that had let down its anchor. He reached into the back pocket of his jeans and took out a slightly crumpled photograph.
“Why didn’t I stop it before it happened?”