Long’s Luxury Resale
Jessie stepped into the thrift shop and the door creaked to a close behind her. Her heart pounded with the thrill of it, with the thrill of this game she played. Pop a Percocet, pop into a shop and pop some tags. Except she didn’t pop tags—she never spent a dime. She went into each store in search the most exotic thing she could find. And then she stole it.
She had never been to this shop, a hole in the wall in a faded Chinatown strip mall. Long’s Luxury Resale, the sign said.
Pinpricks of light danced before Jessie’s eyes. Her shoulders relaxed. The pill was kicking in.
“Looking for something special?” asked the elderly woman at the cash register. The woman took a drag on a cigarette and exhaled the smoke through her nose. Mrs. Long, Jesse guessed.
Jessie ducked down a row of shelves and surveyed the options. A wooden tiki. Alabaster chess pieces. A cracked vase. And then, Jessie saw it, a pale green bracelet sitting atop of pile of tarnished costume jewelry. She picked it up. It was jade—heavy and cold—and it featured a dragon’s head carved so that it looked like the beast’s mouth was consuming its tail.
Jessie jumped at Mrs. Long’s voice. She turned around, hiding the bracelet between her sweaty palms. Mrs. Long craned over the shelf, her head looking disembodied next a globe and an old lamp.
“Just for you. My special customer.” She smiled and walked away.
That was close, Jessie thought.
She stared at the bracelet—it was coloor of new leaves. And the carving—exquisite. The dragon’s canine teeth protruded from a shaggy beard that seemed to ripple like real hair. Its eyes looked blankly at her. Jessie snorted. He looked like he had popped a pill.
As she held it, the stone grew warm and the dragon’s eyes glowed orange.
It’s the pill, she told herself.
“Find something?” Mrs. Long called from across the shop.
Jessie slid the bracelet onto her wrist, stuffed her hand in her coat pocket, and headed to the door.
“No luck today.” She reached for the knob.
In a flash, Mrs. Long was next to her, clutching her shoulder. A stack of jade bracelets jangled on the old woman’s wrist.
Inside Jessie’s pocket, something sharp pierced her delicate skin.
“Ouch!” Forgetting the stolen bracelet, Jessie pulled out her hand. She gasped. Warm blood trickled across her palm, and where the bracelet had been, something green and scaly clung to her wrist.
“Oh my stars!” said Mrs. Long. She clapped her hands, her bracelets clinking. “You’re very lucky.”
The creature coiled up Jessie’s forearm and around her bicep. She screamed and tore at her jacket. “Help me!” A ripping sound came from her elbow and the jacket fell in shreds to the floor.
Wrapped around Jessie’s arm was a small green dragon, its fangs sunk into her. Jessie couldn’t breathe. The dragon’s eyes flickered gold and red and small blue flames leapt from its nostrils.
“Get—it—off!” she gasped.
“He chose you.” Mrs. Long caressed the dragon’s chin. “Very special.” It growled and raked its claws along Jessie’s arm. Her smooth skin erupted into a sheet of iridescent green scales.
“It’s the pill. It must have been bad—it’s Fentanyl. Call 911!”
“They can’t help you, dear.”
Jessie’s arms, neck, and back pulsed as scales spread beneath her clothes.
“This isn’t real. It’s the pill. Help me!” Smoke puffed out her nose.
Jesse watched, paralyzed, as the scales melted together into a crust of smooth, pale jade. The dragon sighed and its scales also faded. She could no longer tell where she ended and the dragon began. She felt herself shrinking, becoming one with the cold stone.
“You got what you wanted,” Mrs. Long said, reaching for her, for the dragon. “So special.”
And then all went dark.
“And now,” Mrs. Long slid the bracelet next to the others on her wrist. “I have you.”
Amy Francis Dechary.
Amy Francis Dechary writes short stories and historical fiction in Orange County, CA. Her work has appeared in Juste Milieu and numerous Southern California publications. President of the Laguna Beach-based writing group Third Street Writers, she was the editor of the group’s Beach Reads anthology series and is fiction editor of their forthcoming online lit journal, Third Street Review. A graduate of the University of Virginia, she once taught middle and high school English and worked in the publishing industry in Washington, DC.
3/9/2023 02:06:48 am
LOVE THIS! What a delightful, unexpected twist! It appealed to me all the more since I was born in a Year of the Dragon.
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