E.F. Fluff: The Shop that Ran Away (A Fairytale)

Bivalia synthesizers by Swedish craftsman Love Hultén. Source: lovehulten.com

Contrary to popular belief no magical shops or mythical creatures will be appearing in this story.

She slept in a workshop under a giant unfinished surfboard her mother called “the tourist attraction”.

When she was born they named her Esther, but immediately gave out cards saying she was to be called Esty. The other name was for later life, for the times when a young woman had to sound extra officious to implement her will.

Life on the road is stressful at the best of times and for a small acid techno act at the end of the nineties, it could be bleak. Especially if you were trying to save just enough to keep the building your father’s old surfboard shop was in. It was understandable that you might skip a period or two.

Stress can do that you know.

Her mother found out at home, with only a small window of time for decisions. The news came at a tense time in Ireland; women were again, as always, fighting for the right to basic health care and an airy threat of the police by her GP stalled things. Things were too miserable and even with the threat of prison, Nyx decided to wait to bring Esty into the world.

When she could talk to Esty about Esty’s dad without crying; she would only ever say “He returned to the sea from whence he came, back to his father, Manannán.”

They rarely spoke, except at bedtime, when Nyx would read Esty some of her dad’s Pratchett books. As she slept in a corner of the shop, all the bits about magical wandering shops were repeated so often that Nyx made her a photocopied book of them. It was the only thing she made her and she had destroyed it on her many times, guilt always made her remake it.

She was often alone though she didn’t mind. She found comfort in the shop and workshop, frozen as they were in the two separate moments when they’d died.

She liked to think the shop was sleeping, tired from centuries wandering about providing heroes with magical surfboards, oars and skiffs. The types of things they needed to fight evil. Granted, for a while there, there’d not been much call for daring nautical adventures. But! She reasoned, as she sat beneath the giant surfboard that’d been promised to fix her mother’s life, back before Esty was, before she’d come and “ruined the wreckages”. The seas were rising, islands disappearing, it would soon be the shop’s time again.

The surfboard was massive; so big that a house could surf on it, if a house was so inclined. She spent most of her time beneath it. Nyx rarely liked to look at it for long so the shouting was least here.

She sat under the words “Mother Night”, her mother’s touring banner, playing with the synths she wasn’t allowed to turn on lest she “lose the patterns”. Music was mostly banned, but she knew enough to daydream it was the key to waking the dreaming shop. The sea loved music, it was always singing; so sea creatures and magic sea shops must also, it seemed to make perfect sense and weren’t fairytales filled with magic songs?

Sometimes, she would take her mother’s pattern books and stare at them, it helped her take her mind from the aches of the bruises.

The bedtime reading stopped when she said she wanted to learn how to surf for her twelfth birthday. Besides salt it was the only thing she’d ever asked for. After that, they communicated mostly through notes and Nyx’s absences grew longer. She imagined that it was because of the sea, that her mother couldn’t bear its sound, so she went to a place beyond the sea.

After one particularly brutal night when a synth had been found left on. Whilst having trouble using the patterns to focus away the pain; turning the book around and around loosened hidden pages that spilled out a pattern never played. “Who loves the whole night.”

She would set and wire the synths up with her eyes closed. It felt more magical that way. They used to be beneath the giant surfboard, in the workshop of the shop. But if she was going to deliberately hurt her mother then she had to choose one.

The giant surfboard lay in the rain now, straddling dunes where the dollytruck’s gears had broken and her mother had used the car to push it over before driving off into the night.

When Nyx was away, coming home only at night or every second day. The house would pulse and throb with the deep bass, synth and drum of mournful acid, though it’d often judder to a halt on a bumnote then start again.

It was on a Monday, when it all clicked and the shop filled with a primordial squelching and pulsing that looped on and on in a melancholy self-generating chaos of delay and melody. She was so happy she thought she heard the shop creak and groan in a long sleepy yet happy yawn. Though it was probably just the bass, she reasoned to herself before drifting off to her surfing dreams.

Five days later, when Nyx returned, there was only a huge hole where once the shop had been. Esty, the shop and the massive surfboard that’d straddled three dunes, where it lay when the dollytruck’s gears had broken, were gone.And as she looked and ran, she found only the surf lapping away irregular holes that she thought might have been tracks.

Tracks from where the shop had run away…