My first delight in “Now Open,” came in the opening, as the unnamed narrator meets a goth girl in a mall, selling time in a box. What a neat conceit, I thought. The next came when I realized this was another story by K.J. Kabza. It’s always nice to stumble on more stories by an author you’re getting to like.
In the story, the boxes of time remind me of the Procrastinators in Thief of Time, and the goth is awfully close to a cross between a History Monk and Susan. But I liked this story better. It’s short. It raises a question, partly answers it, and leaves you to play with its implications.
The characters are sketched deftly. The goth’s sophistication is hinted at by the book in her hand: Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus. An obnoxious teen-age boy serves as a foil to demonstrate her power. He is, well he’s your standard jerk, but he seems real enough to me.
The narrator remains a cipher. You can’t even tell if they’re a man or a woman. The ending is also suggestive, verging on opaque. I think the last line is the moment the narrator falls in love, and that’s how reading this story gave me its third delight.