The store smelled of old books. Shelves packed with them lined every wall. My eyes, after they adjusted to the gloom, were instantly drawn to the centre of the room where a medieval suit of armour stood tall, towering over a dusty eighteenth century writing desk and even more low shelves of books. A vibrant red plume stuck up from its closed helmet, almost reaching the globes of the yellow lights hanging above it. I walked through the narrow gaps between furniture and stacks of books to reach the armour. The plate mail was clearly very old but not dented or scratched. It hadn't been polished for years, but it hadn't been dirtied in that time either.
'Looks about your size,' said a friendly voice.
I turned, the shop owner stood beside me. He smiled, grey eyebrows ascending. I turned back to the armour and put my hand on the solid breast plate.
'The leather lining is gone,' he continued. 'You can't wear it anymore. But it's a damn good talking piece. It's a complete Milanese suit. Its type was worn during the crusades by many knights.'
As he talked I inspected the statue closely. On the legs there were scratches, small points etched in where a dagger might have tried penetrating through metal.
'This armour is in excellent condition. Most battle worn armour is usually falling apart in the legs. Knees, shins, ankles, that's where most knights used to be targeted. The breast plates were thick and would absorb the impact of most things. It took real craftsmanship to produce a balance between resistance and mobility in the legs and joints.'
I looked down, where the shins connected to the boots. A wide, thin metal band ran down each side of the ankle. It reminded me of the ankle straps I wore for basketball. 'I guess,' I thought to myself 'there's not much chance of rolling your ankle when you're wearing a suit of armour...'
That's when time stopped, and my epiphany smashed me in the face like a tonne of... a tonne of plate metal:
No rolled ankles. No smashed fingers. No fractured fibulas. No dislocations. Padding for all my cartilage...
Every single soft, squishy pink bit of my body that seemed to be holding a ticket in a line for an injury covered by hard, impenetrable metal. If I never stopped wearing it, I could possibly go the rest of my life without another injury. I know it sounds impractical, unrealistic, but I might be able to finally sleep through the night without the haunting dreams.
'Are you looking at buying?' he asked, sensing I had retreated to existing solely in my own head.
'I wasn't until a few minutes ago,' I said. 'I think I am now.'
'Well, you should think yourself lucky. Structurally it's completely sound. No rust at all. Where are you thinking of putting it on display?'
'Do you have a change room?'
'Can I try it on?' I stood next to the armour. 'Are we the same height? Do you know any armour tailors? Is that a thing? I think the hardest part will be convincing my boss that it's ok to wear around the office.'
His mouth stayed open, but he was no longer talking.