tortoise shell coral venus fly-traps
By Sydney Johnson
There is a convenience store in town, owned by a gentle shopkeeper. In the shop, the year’s Venus flytraps are dying… only until the kids arrive.
You have been taught to recognize patterns your entire life.
The gym sleeps, the halls sleep and when the bell rings its terrible cry, Bear, Fleur and Makeda quite nearly rip their homeroom door off of its hinges, rushing to fly their bikes down the street to meet the strange, gentle shop owner of the convenience store that all the parents whisper about during their parent meetings.
They rush, pedaling faster faster faster, Whoever grabs the store’s door handle last is a rotten egg! and when they finally get to the store they make quick work of locking their bikes, running inside and huddling around Yoshi like a life source, almost, game forgotten.
One day, they get out of school a little early. This is a definite way to make them happy. So when Makeda, hurriedly walking into the store asks, “Yoshi! Yoshi! How did you buy this shop?” it’s not a surprise to Bear or Fleur. They’re happy enough to ask questions too.
Yoshi responds, grin peaking at their excitement, “I inherited it from my grandmother. She owned it for as long as I could remember, and when she passed, this place was put under my name on her will. I take care of it because she gave it to me. You should do that too, take care of the things people give you. Look, come here. How did you get that necklace you have on Makeda?”
“It was my mom’s; she gave it to me on my sixth birthday and said to keep it safe since it’s… since a lot of my older family members had it before me.”
“A family heirloom.” Makeda perks up, and nods. That’s the word she was looking for. “Make sure you keep it safe then; it carries something really special.”
Makeda stares at nothing, and is made separate from the world. It takes a minute, but she comes back to herself in pieces and whisper-shouts an “okay!”
She had noticed something as Yoshi spoke careful words, a light buzz, a soft hum from the pearl dangling from her neck. She had felt the warmth of her ancestors, a reminder.
You are loved.
The kids and Yoshi met by pure chance, as most important things do, on a Monday after school when the air seemed a little bit too warm. Yoshi gave them a place to stay cool, and ice cream to balance the heat trapped in the convenience store. That’s all you need to do really, give people space to feel comfortable.
One day, Bear came into the store crying. Kind of quietly, but still crying. Behind him trailed Fleur and Makeda, also crying. Yoshi waited for them to enter the store before they said anything. They waited until the kids had all trudded in, and waited some more. Finally, they asked, “Would you all like a hug?”
The kids, bright-eyed and teary, rushed to Yoshi to throw their arms around them. When they pulled back, they started talking and didn’t stop.
It turned out that Bear had gotten tripped earlier that day in school. He cried when he hit the ground and he cried when he saw that he had scraped his knee, and when Fleur and Makeda saw him crying, they started to cry too. They cried all the way to Yoshi’s shop. And they cried together. And they cried in Yoshi’s arms, still. But the hug made the pain from the scrape and the pain from seeing a friend in pain bearable.
The parents of this town have watched this corner store, with its cigarettes-planted-in-sand- boxes window sills, gum and candy and lighters, lying magazines and cheap keepsakes and dying-cacti-filled back room for months now. They wonder, sometimes, why all of the kids love Yoshi so much.
I wanted to write a series about wonder, and explore the idea (which I’ve heard a lot) that as you age you get closer to becoming a baby again. This piece is the first part of it, and combines the two previously mentioned ideas.
Sydney Johnson is a long time reader, inquisitive writer and student. She loves listening to and making music, her houseplants and the visual and written arts. Her goal as a writer is to have the ability to guide her readers into understanding even her most complex thoughts.