The Shop

I remember the first time I entered Lourd’s Lucky Sweet Shop. I was young and like other kids, chocolates were simply heaven to me. While father and I were on our way to the store, I asked him why we had to go there when grandfather was already making me chocolates. Father just replied that we had to know the taste. “For business’ sake,” he said. I didn’t understand him until now that I am the new owner of my family’s sweet shop – I waited for a lifetime for a customer to bustle the wind chimes in our shop.

Villagers and tourists come to and fro the store, carrying with them bags of rich and luscious chocolates –sprinkled with frosting, made more delectable with pistachios, cashews, raisins, and berries –ready to be undressed in its golden foil and melt lustfully in their mouths. An instant taste of pleasure is worth a dollar.

My teeth mated with the first piece of Lourd’s chocolate I had. It was not heaven that I felt –but a new world where my fantasy came true – Ariana. My admiration for her was the secret ingredient of the chocolates I create. I sent her a box every week to show her my sincerity until one day, eating the front page of the newspaper was the wedding picture of her and the man who stole the glorious days of my family’s chocolates.

A stranger might wonder on such publicity Mr. Lourd has been enjoying, even overshadowing the bewildering series of disappearances of young women in the town. But for the people of St. Wilshire, the arrival of Mr. Lourd was a new chapter in their lives as he provided them with jobs, food, and other necessities the government failed to do so.

However, Mr. Lourd is barely seen on the streets. His photograph with Ariana on the newspaper was one of the rare shots of him. He would rather dwell inside his shop to see the satisfied faces of his customers. My picture of him was still clear – deep, almond-shaped eyes with a crooked nose. His jawed face curtained by graying hair; his lips thin and voice hoarse. Judging by his looks, I would have been a better, more handsome husband and the sulkiness still lingers as I pass his shop everyday on my way to my store. One morning, I saw Mr. Lourd waving goodbye to a bunch of sweet-toothed children. To my delight, I caught a glimpse of Ariana from the window. Her beauty didn’t fade away but when she caught my eyes, my soul trembled on the terror reflecting her gaze.

Tonight, I decided free her from captivity of the man she never loved. True, Mr. Lourd’s chocolates were far better but he will never taste Ariana’s love I shall be the only one to consume. On my way, I passed by the old woman wailing for days in search of her daughter. Finally, I stood in front of Mr. Lourd’s Sweet Shop and devised the escape plan. I crept to the backdoor and decided to break the glass on the door but it was already ajar. I sneaked inside.

Hundreds of jars of chocolates welcomed me in the storage room. Burglars are fortunate tonight to steal Mr. Lourd’s creations. I fumbled inside until I grasped rising wooden steps that might lead me to Ariana’s room. Cautiously, I fled to the second storey where, to my humble surprise, Mr. Lourd makes his concoctions. There was a large fire place on the north; the fire crackling and illuminating my way. Bags of cocoa stood on the floor. Wooden tables are parallel to each other and I slithered in the middle, curious. The tables on the left were heavily laden by kitchen utensils: pots, pan, trays, sifters, measuring cups and spoons while on the other, there was none. I was about to look for another flight of stairs until I smelled something pungent.

Already nauseated, I tripped on the floor and some utensils followed my fall. Goosebumps rose and even chilled when before me, a knife with red spots shot my gazed. I immediately stood up and my vision was right. I wondered where it came from. Tomato juice?

I followed the cat inside of me and filled the curiosity. I lit the candle I fortunately found on one of the tables and its dark glow occupied the room. I found myself fidgeting in the large room only to be horrified of what I saw.

Beside the right lane of tables were the bodies of young, immovable women that the newspapers had been long looking for. They were still fully-clothed, except a girl whose blouse was unbuttoned were a deep, dark slash on her neck was carved. The table was not vacant as newly-created chocolates were waiting to be chilled. To get a grip of myself together, I took a piece and shove it in my mouth. It was then that I discovered the secret to Mr. Lourd’s chocolates.

It was still fresh.

Nausea finally gushed from my mouth. One of the bodies was cringing and as I slowly peered to its location, I cried in anguish as Ariana’s body shook, blood tainting her midnight clothes. She stared at me pleadingly, not to ask help but for me to run.

 

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This story was inspired from the “Deep Dark Secrets” theme in the last issue of The Hub. Since most writers would opt to write about obsession, murder, gore, or any the likes, I choose to write about chocolates because I love dark chocolates — thus, the story. I hope you’ll like it. 🙂