My Grandmother's store was located in one of the most peaceful areas of the city. She had lived in Brooklyn all her life, as had I, and I must admit that apart from the noisy vegetable sellers, it had a wonderful atmosphere to it. Our quiet Sycamore lined street was located directly off of Lee Avenue, and the two of us lived directly above her bookstore with our Russian housekeeper, Katya. The row houses on the eastern side of the street were all three-story brownstones with neatly kept flower boxes and backyards. The other part of the street, past our bookstore, was filled with butcheries, candle shops and fruit markets with signs in both Yiddish and English. The bookstore was a place of safety for me, almost like a second home after my mother died. Books in almost every language lined the shelves and covered practically everything. In had never seen even a part of a bare wall in that store.
Every morning, Grandmother woke at dawn to dust the novels and prepare fresh tea for our customers, most of whom we knew on a first name basis. She made sure to shine the little leaf-covered bell that hung in our doorway, whose pure ring welcomed anyone who came into the store. I spent practically my entire childhood in that store, inundating myself with every novel, story, and magazine available. It seemed to somehow ease the pain of growing up without an abundance of friends and neither parent. I had always taken it for granted and never quite realized how precious the store was to me.
I wept silently as I sat near the door. Now that Grandmother was gone, the only thing left in my life with any value, monetary or sentimental, was the store. I remember Grandmother telling me that if I ever wanted her to be there with me again, all I had to do was ring the bell. My hand shook as I slowly reached up for it. The loud tingle pierced the air with its sweetness and safely kept memories. Everything seemed peaceful for a short while. I smiled through my tears.