“You alright? It’s been a while since I saw you up here.”
I looked behind me and saw Carl approaching the front of the store, “Yeah. Just had to use the bathroom after setting up the cellar.”
Carl snapped his fingers, “Oh, I get you. I had the early morning shits today, too.”
I didn’t need nor want to know that. “R-Right.”
“Well, the morning workload is out. Feel free to start on whatever you want today. There’s nothing of urgency right now.”
Finished updating me on the work for the day, Carl turned back around and went to the back office. I watched as he vanished behind the fifteen-foot high wall that divided the first floor: the majority of the floor being taken up for customers to browse shelves of wines, and the back being used as a makeshift office. My hand started trembling when Carl left my line of sight.
I looked down and saw what made my arm react in such a way. From the forearm down to the fingertips, one visible, pulsating vein branched out like a tree limb, transporting blood all over. My skin had darkened to a near pitch black color, deep cuts decorating all over. My fingers had stretched out, my nails themselves shimmering with silver of sudden grown. My entire arm was being dragged down from the new weight of my forearm down.
However, I was well adjusted to it by now.
Just relax, Luka. You caught it early. Don’t need to be walking around with a giant claw all day again.
Taking a deep breath I shook my arm out, watching it as the black lightened up to my usual caramel skin tone, the vein quickly recededing back under my skin, and my nails retracted back to their normal length and color. I watched my arm for a bit, turning it over and over just to make sure no strange details lingered. There have been times when I would look down and see that my hand morphed into this monstrous thing, but that was usually when I was safe at home. This is the first time when I didn’t even notice that my arm did it, and it was at work.
“Ohhoho~ You didn’t even feel it switch this time did, did ya? It just happens soooo naturally to you now.”
I put my elbows on the counter and put my hands in my face, mentally replying to the demon within, “Shut up. It was just a small slip up, it’s not gonna happen again.”
“Considering we’re stuck with Carl alone for another forty-five minutes, I’m willing to put money down that your claw’s gonna come out again. You’re more of a demon than you want to admit. And when it does, I’ll happily–”
I cut her off immediately, “Shut. The fuck. Up.”
The demon laughed before slowly fading away into silence. I rubbed my face to try and regain my composure before finally starting work for the day. I left from behind the counters and walked around the store, making a mental list of whatever could be restocked from the extra boxes downstairs in the cellar. Walking up and down the aisles, pushing whatever boxes to one side to make it easier for customers to walk around without issue, I tried to straighten up the store as best as I could. France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain—walking around the store and checking each different section felt like I was on a quick world tour. There were bottles I recognized, new bottles I’ve never seen before, and some that I’ve tasted—it’s a perk of working in a wine store.
I found a couple of boxes scattered around the store with bottles that needed to be placed on the shelves, so I took care of those. With the empty boxes, I casually tossed them to a corner of the store where boxes were being stored to be tossed out at the end of the day. Once the store is cleared, I’ll come back to them and start breaking them down. I repeated this for different sections, a very repetitive process that quickly became boring. The last few boxes were in the French section, so I knew I was going to be here for a while. Trying to break the deafening silence, I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a bluetooth earphone and put it in my ear. I then took out my phone and randomly started playing a video, letting it go as I quietly went about my business. Undisturbed, listening to stand-up comedy in one ear, was the best way I could deal with the boring nature of work.