When I woke up, the sun had already set.
I stretched, then opened the curtains. The room was clouded with steam. This is what happens when you turn on the cooling crystal before bed. Looking like this, it seemed incredibly hot outside. so I decided to open the window for ventilation.
“Wow, is this madness?”
I regretted opening it. The hot wind hit my face immediately, so I hurriedly closed the window. Forget Ventilation. It was too dangerous outside, and with that realization, I decided to get back in bed and hunker down. Lying in bed with a thin duvet covering me from the cold wind was heavenly.
The only problem was that there was nothing in the house. It was a hungry paradise. I hadn’t opened the shop, hadn’t been out of the house for a week, and I hadn’t eaten anything but the scraps of bread that were left in the house, and my stomach was trying to stick to my back. But if I was going to go out, I needed to get dressed, and I needed to wash up.
I pondered over this for a while, rolling in bed for another hour or two, until I was sure I was going to die. I finally resolved to do it. Yes, it was a matter of survival. I have to eat to live. After a quick wash and changing into clothes, I reluctantly left the house.
“Crazy, really, truly crazy.”
But, as soon as I stepped outside, I wanted to go back immediately due to the assaulting heat. Wasn’t it too severe for my forehead to start sweating within a second of leaving the house?
Still, what was done was done. Trying not to breathe in the humid air as much as possible, I walked through the small yard attached to my house and saw the back door of a shop that completely blocked the yard.
To call it a shop was a bit modest, actually. It was a building that resembled a small warehouse, separated from the front yard. But it was the only entrance to my house. If I didn’t open the shop, no one could enter. That was a satisfying feature, considering it was located in a poor neighborhood. It was relatively expensive for its location, though.
I inserted the key into the back door of the shop. Upon entering, it was, of course, as hot as a sauna. If I stayed like this, I would turn into a steamed bun. I wiped off sweat and turned on the cooling crystal ball I had left haphazardly on the shop table. Soon, cool air began to flow out, and it started to feel refreshing.
“Ah, it feels like I can survive now.”
One couldn’t help but admire technological advancement. When I opened the shop door and stepped onto the street, people passing by stared at me. Most of their glances were indifferent.
I had been living on this street, operating the shop, for about a year now, but I didn’t have many close friends. The only building I could afford with the money I had was just a shabby structure near the market in the slums. Perhaps that was why they were wary of the newcomer who suddenly rolled in.
Well, it was more convenient for me that way too.
Just as I was about to take a step, Jane, who ran a fruit shop nearby, saw me and rushed over. She was one of the few people on this harsh street who pretended to know me, she was wearing long sleeves and a long apron in this heat. Ridiculous. Just looking at her made me feel hot.
“Where the hell have you been since the store closed?”
“Oh, I didn’t know where to call. I was just at home. Aren’t you hot, by the way?”
It was just a casual greeting. I merely said something appropriate to someone wearing long-sleeved clothes on such a hot day, but when Jane heard me, she laughed, her face a strange shade of blue.
“Don’t you think you’re being a little too cooped up in that house? Do you have any food at home?”
“Well, not really. I came out because I’m running out of food.”
“Then, are you planning to open the pharmacy tomorrow?”
Pharmacy, a word that sticks in my throat no matter how many times I hear it. In my shop, I sold magical potions, but in the era I came from, instead of using the term “pharmacy,” it was often referred to as a witch’s laboratory or something equally as stupid. Well, I’m not going to hold on to my old-fashioned sensibilities forever, I’ve got to get with the times sooner or later.
“I was thinking about it. Why? Do you need something?”
“I’m out of cold medicine at home.”
“Are you going to take it? Or someone else?”
“My son caught a cold after swimming in the river and the night breeze.”
Jane’s son was twelve years old now and is a rumored troublemaker around here. Okay, calling him troublemaker was a bit of an understatement. As far as I know, he’s been reprimanded a few times for pickpocketing, and I’ve had my share of magic potions stolen. Still, luckily, the patrol officers had let him off due to his young age.
Jane tried her best to educate her son, but it was a tough task for a woman who worked all day to make ends meet. As far as I could tell, it was difficult for her son to rehabilitate himself while living on this street. They are too poor to dream of a future.
I thought of Jane’s son for a moment and sighed. Anyway, a child was a child, no matter what.
“I’ll open the shop tomorrow. Come buy it by then. It’s not a severe case, is it?”
“It’d be better if you give it now, but if you’re busy, I’ll come later.”
Saying this made it harder to refuse. I eventually went back into the shop. It had already cooled down considerably since I had activated the cooling crystal ball. It felt like a different world from outside. I thought about canceling the idea of going out to the market. I wondered if I could just have them delivered, but of course, I didn’t have the money for that.
While Jane waited nervously outside, refusing to come in, I found a glass bottle in the corner of the store. Looking at what was written on it, it seemed to be cold medicine. It shouldn’t have spoiled, since it’s magic, after all.
I left the store and handed the vial to Jane, stopping her from pulling a coin out of her apron to pay for it.
“It’s alright. Instead, bring me some fruits. I don’t have anything to eat at home.”
Jane’s face brightened. It was a small gesture, but it made me shake my head.
“Thank you. I’ll bring you plenty of delicious ones.”
“Make sure to include peaches.”
I waved to Jane as she hurried away, and then got back on the road. Jane would bring the fruits, but I needed some flour and meat. I also needed vegetables. I didn’t have much money, so I won’t be able to buy much, but if I opened the shop tomorrow, I would have some income again. My pharmacy was doing reasonably well.
It would have been nice to stroll comfortably in my dress, but after buying vegetables, bread, flour, seasoning, and other items, I ended up covered in dust from head to toe. Trying to find a paved road in this neighborhood was quite a challenge. It might be different if I were in a district where the nobles lived.
By the time I finished shopping, my legs were exhausted, and dirt from the road clung to the hem of my dress. Carriages had splashed mud all over it. I held the paper bag close to my chest as I walked back, and the sun had already completely set. There were only a few gas lamps installed by the country along this road, and even in the long summer evenings, it became incredibly dark at night.
With the lack of security and the darkness, it would be a terrible place to get mugged, but I’ve been fortunate enough not to have had to deal with that yet. Of course, there were minor inconveniences, like mischievous kids occasionally attempting to pickpocket my apples or magical potions, but I usually overlooked those incidents.