This piece was written for the Six Sentence story challenge , with the prompt word of ‘remnant’.
The Oldie Curiosity Shop differed from the other antique, bric-a-brac and charity stores that lined the seafront in the rapidly fading village of Underconstumple in the designated tourist zone known as the Fossil Coast, in that it rented out, by the hour, old people with stories to tell, or as they liked to call it, remnants from remnants.
For a modest sum, you could rent a desiccated, but nonetheless living and mostly coherent, octogenarian who in a previous time had held an important role in the community and, as they talked, customers would wonder at how such people ever existed, let alone earned a living.
Shirlene Hardcastle (Shirlene Farquhar as was) would have people gape-mouthed as she related how she gave birth to five children, never had a paid job, made all the family’s clothes on a cantankerous Singer sewing machine that she’d bought second-hand, cooked meals on something she called a stove and they would guffaw in disbelief when she’d say she couldn’t remember ever being unhappy.
Ernie, the last of the Youngblood clan from Tantanoola, would regale his customers with stories of repairing cars that people had to drive themselves and constantly refill with something called petrol; when he added that these cars sometimes cost more than a house and had a propensity to kill their owners with little warning, skeptical eyebrows would collide with the ceiling.
Marilyn Burnside specialised in describing how people used to be required to travel many miles to work in buildings called offices and spend their days typing on something called a keyboard and communicate with people in other offices with an instrument with a cord attached called a telephone, all for the purpose of selling things to other people who worked in offices, just like them.
But the star attraction was Bill Barnes, who would show them things called books, consisting of printed words on paper made from trees, that people would buy to keep in their homes and sometimes read more than once, a fact that stunned his customers almost as much as the fact that you couldn’t talk to them and get a response (although some wondered if they were an early version of a teenager).