The door of the shop is made from glass, and the young woman hesiting on the other side of the street is clearly visible. I know she is here for our offers, although she has spent the last twenty or something minutes staring at the display of the travel agency. Well, she must know the fake kangaroo and the little plastic igloo by heart. As she has studied the offers, I have secretly studied her. We don't get many customers, but they pay whatever we ask. You could say, we grant wishes. Wishes of a special kind, but wishes nevertheless. Of course, we don't tell those people whether what they wish for will actually make them happy. That is their business. We grant the wishes, they live them.
This young woman is dressed promisingly - she will pay what we ask for without second thought. The long, well-tended fox fur coat indicates she is far from poor and knows how to preserve wealth. She is tall, I'd probably only come up to her shoulder. Long bottle-blond curls are tied together with an exquisite silk scarf, but the wind has messed them up nevertheless. Some things, not even money can guard you against. I have noticed her slender legs in their soft, well-worn leather boots. Low heels. When you're that tall, you really don't need heels to make other people feel small. And I guess she has the expression to make up for the lack of heels anyway.
I don't want to appear waiting, so I start minor tasks around the shop. There are no dusty spots - I am very strict on dust. What we sell is really fresh and new, so dust would not be very becoming. Instead of those neon lamps that all the modern fancy supermarkets are so fond of, we have small, elegant lamps scattered all over the shop, casting highlights on our offers. Tiny faces, shimmering eyes, the best cloth money can buy. On other shelves there are more simple objects, made from the things you find on your trips into the woods and fields. The corn puppets have become very fashionable, and I am especially good at making them. And they work even better than the expensive porcellaine dolls we only buy and - well, charge.
As the wind chimes over the shop door begin to tinkle softly, I actually have my back to the door. I take my time, putting a small doll carefully back in her seat, arranging her skirt, only then I turn around. "Good afternoon, how may I help you?"
When this woman has made up her mind, nothing can stop her. This much becomes clear right away. "I want a child."
"Have you and your partner tried?" I look her straight in the eyes, but she doesn't even blush.
"Of course we have." She has the grace to look down on the counter. But that one glance was enough. I know her story. I know our service wil work for her. Some cases are hopeless, the women like deserts to our touch. No amount of wish-granting could give them what they want. And instead of selling them our products nevertheless, we tell them. Honesty is very important.
Well, not in all areas. I could tell this woman that her husband had a vasectomy. That he doesn't want children. Or that he is cheating on her with his secretary. Clichée, clichée. But if a child is what she wishes for, we will give her that.
I take her further into the shop, where she looks around at all our dolls and puppets. Hundreds of them, each prepared to make this special wish come true. Some only distinctly remind you of human shapes, others are done elaborately. This doesn't affect what we charge. It's the amount of what we put into our products that decides the price. I watch the young woman - she has a beautifull face, made up very expertly, but dull eyes, grey like dishwater. I know she is friendly and a tiny bit shy, deep inside. But she was raised to fill a certain position in the world, her family had great hopes for her. She wants something that is her own, so desperately, with so much force...
She has settled on a tiny doll, thoroughly made from black twigs and clothed in the most wonderful of little dresses, with flowers embroidered on it. I remember how much time I spent preparing this one.
I give her the instructions and mention a number. She doesn't hesitate. And it seems she has heard we only accept cash. From her shiny dark brown purse she pulls a wad of bills and hands it to me. "This should cover your services. And your discretion."
To others it might seem rude, but I take the time to count the money. Deperate women have tried all kinds of tricks on us before. one was almost as good as I am. It took me several seconds to realize that what I had taken was not money, but a pile of yellowish paper, cut from old letters. She didn't make it far, I saw to that. And I kept the letters and made good use of them.
I watch the woman go down the street with brisk steps, she has a goal in life. I use our tiny kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. From teabags, of course, did you think I would spend hours cutting herbs and stuff? Then I sit down in my comfortable armchair, relax and look into the cup. The steam rises up into the air, and I look into the cup and see - golden liquid, nothing more. I take a sip. Ah, delicious!