The Saturday before school started, Tina and her mom went to Second Hand Love for back-to-school clothes. Tina hated the feeling of wearing someone else’s jeans, but after a few wears she forgot all about it. After all, one could swing from the monkey bars just as well in pre-owned pants as ones that came brand new from Macy’s, and the other kids only made fun the first week of school before moving on to easier targets than Tina.
As her mom searched for necessary items of clothing that didn’t show too much wear at the knees or pilling across the chest, Tina moseyed around the more interesting shelves. She picked at colorful scarves, floppy hats, forgotten Playskool relics. As she neared the end of the aisle, something caught her eye.
She could tell right away that they weren’t ordinary sunglasses. They had pink frames with turquoise embellishments on the side, and they seemed to, well, glow compared to the drab tortoiseshell and plain old black varieties. They almost begged her to try them on. While her mom picked through the rack of used sweaters that smelled slightly of mothballs and decay, Tina picked them up and slid them on.
She looked around at the now-darkened shelves of crumbling paperbacks and abandoned crockpots across the back of the store. After a few seconds, the walls shimmied a little.
Snatching the glasses off her face, she stared at them. Ordinary lenses, tinted a caramel brown. Nothing unusual. She slowly put them on again.
Once again, after only a moment, the walls trembled rhythmically. Shelves shook, and bric-a-brac fell clattering to the floor. At the back of the store, one of the walls appeared to suck in on itself, swirling like a drain…
She yanked the glasses off again, heart pattering like her pet bunny’s. They didn’t feel like trick glasses. It felt so real. One quick look back at the wall confirmed that no vortex existed; there wasn’t even a doorway on that wall.
She walked over to her mom, who by that time had an armload of smelly clothes.
“Mom, can I get these glasses?” When her mom looked up, she quickly added, “They’re only 50 cents. I’ll pay for them. I still have money left over from returning the cans.”
“Okay,” her mother said absently, continuing to paw through the racks.
Tina didn’t try them on again until they got back to the apartment. They had burned a hole in her pocket, and every few minutes she reached in and touched them, making sure they were still there. They felt so ordinary in there. She almost stopped believing it had even happened.
When her mother started dumping the “new” clothes into the laundry, Tina ran to her room and shut the door. Pulling the glasses out of her pocket, it suddenly occurred to her that not only had she seen the walls shake, seen the hole in wall start forming, she had heard it, too. The clattering junk, the sound of vibrating walls that reminded her of an earthquake.
After one look around her gray room with its bare walls and shabby toys cluttering the dresser, and she put them on.
Same shimmying walls. Same swirling drain-hole in the wall. It widened, growing larger and larger until it was the size and shape of a doorway.
She reached out, fingers grazing the opening…
…then stepped through.