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16 Dec 2011



Elke was not surprised when she spotted Regina at the flea market, only that Regina already seemed to be on the way out, a wooden box with brass fitting wedged under her arm and a self-satisfied smile spread across her face.

“Am I that late? You found something already?”

“Oh yes, I got lucky.” Regina looked Elke up and down. “If you just arrived, how about we meet next weekend?” Usually they went to have tea together if they found each other at a flea market, to show off whatever they had found. “There’s at least one stand with books that might interest you. And this will look better with a bit of polish.”

“All right.” Elke thought it unusual for Regina to not launch into a monologue about her purchase, but if the other woman wanted to make it a big surprise, why not?


Regina had an old house, and a parlour set aside for her favourite antique finds. Elke’s favourite piece was a gramophone. She had helped Regina carry home the box of cylinders that had come with it, years ago, and watched it set up for a test run. The hand-cranked miniature sewing machine was also nice, all polished, and Regina had used it to sew a little quilt tablecloth for Elke.

The Victorian china was another flea market find they had inaugurated together. If it could talk, it might complain about Regina’s habitual experimentation; today’s tea was a very sweet and perfumed concoction.

After their customary smalltalk, Elke asked, “So, what was it you were so cagey about last week?”

Regina made a show of pulling the case out of a cabinet. She set it on the table with a flourish and opened it slowly. Metal gleamed inside, freshly cleaned, but with some nicks and pitting betraying age. There was a saw at the front, further back a set of knives. Knives?

“That is not a tool kit, is it?”

“Oh, no!” Regina chuckled. “Medical instruments, nineteenth century.” She held forth about medical history in more detail than Elke was strictly comfortable with. Her guest made the occasional polite noise and tried to look neither sickened nor tired.

When Regina finally paused and offered another cup of tea, Elke said, “I’m sorry, I’m not sure it agrees with me.” She tried to sit up, but found she had no strength in her arms. “I’m not feeling well.”

“That’s all right.”

“What?” Elke whispered.

Regina smiled down at her and patted the instrument case fondly. “You know I only buy antiques I intend to put to use.”

Based on the prompt "An 1800s surgical kit (pic:" by Lindsay B.

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