Alice: A Short Story
It's Christmas in Berlin. Fatima, a refugee and street performer, is invited to play at a mysterious ball – but she needs a special costume to do so. Enter a peculiar store, staffed by a cat and a strangely attractive man.
But Fatima's not interested in any entanglements. After all, she no longer believes in happy endings...
"There was a sign on the door. Going closer, she read: 'Open until Closed'. With a mental shrug, Fatima turned the handle. Somewhere in the dim recesses of the store a bell jangled, and jangled again when she closed the door behind her against the cold.
Inside felt delightfully cozy. Glass lamps, inlaid in rich colors, hung from the ceiling. Two old, cracked leather chairs were set against an overfull bookcase, and more books were piled in the windowsill, pressing against another lamp, the golden lettering on their spines reflecting the light.
The place was quiet, save for a fire crackling happily on the hearth. Fatima held out her hands to its warmth. The place smelt of musk and mystery and appeared more a library than a store. Or perhaps it was a bookstore …"