I remember walking into a small mom and pop corner grocery store. They still had a bell that rang when I entered, not the annoying buzzer thing I hear nowadays. I could tell that it was night time because the lights in the store were spread out enough that they created little pockets of shadowy space every few feet. When I walked a few paces in the door I turned to the right and looked up at the elderly asian man towering above me. I can't see over the counter very well as it is right at eye level. I remember glancing at all of the things crowded in the tiny space behind the man, but none of them were what I had come looking for. He suggested a few things, but the words never seemed to make it to my ears, only the gestures and the shift of his gaze told me what he was offering me to try.
Not finding what I was looking for behind the counter I turned my feet down the isle running along side it. Though my feet moved at my normal gate, I did not cover as much ground as I should have. My legs were much shorter here and seemed dreamy in their walk, disconnected somehow. There was a slight scratchy sound as my feet moved along the the linoleum floor with a slight gritty feeling under my feet. As I slowly walked between the light and darkness, down the isle, my eyes fell upon the glass cases at the back of the store. I was mesmerised. I knew instantly that what I was looking for was to be found there. I was drawn to the humming cases. My ears picked out the high keening of the fluorescent lights within as my eyes flicked over their contents. My instincts told me that I had seen what I was looking for here. I know it had been here before.
I reached the back cooler case where one wall met another wall and made an odd corner case. Slowly I passed the first door and then the second, at the third door I looked beyond the glass to see a chocolate fantasy. It was layered with finger wide bands of dark and light chocolate. Back and forth the chocolates switched, easily reaching a towering height of over a foot tall. It was crowned with whipped cream and a gleaming cherry. The glass looked like it had been blown around the chocolate creation so deftly that it lifted and cradled it's contents as to not just hold, but offer them up to me. It was holding forth its charge for me, and me alone.
There was no hesitation. I knew there was money in my pocket to pay for this, so I opened the case and drank it down. In the back of my mind I expected it to be like a mouse or parfett, but it was liquid joy. Between the space of three breaths I drank the entire thing. The craving I had for this confection was beyond my need for breath, and I had nothing in my mind or body that was focused on anything else. I finished without even closing the door on the case, my slender leg still propping it open. I could feel the cold air rushing around my thigh.
Then with a contented sigh I let the door close and turned to make my way back to the counter to pay for my bliss. Just then a beautiful young lady turned the corner from an isle and we came face to face. At first her beauty was stunning. But then I saw her youth granted beauty had begun to fade. Her hair was a little lackluster and mussed. Her careworn brow and smile bestowed crows feet elevated her beauty. The way she walked when she had turned the corner and the almost scolding way she looked down at me once she recovered gave it away. I realised then that she glowed with the inner grace and strength of a mother. Her face took on an odd expression. With a probing search of her eyes I knew she was looking not quite at me but strangely through me. Then a tightening around her lips traveled up to her deep drown eyes and I watched them change from questioning and seeking to recognition and sadness. She opened her mouth to speak, but whatever she had been about to say seemed stuck in her throat. She closed her mouth slowly, shook her head, and turned and walked away. Her step seemed slower than when she had turned the corner and her head was lowered as if in thought. I could not quite hear her as she started speaking under her breath, but in a few seconds I caught the rhythm and cadence of her utterance. It was a prayer. One I knew but could not recall in my dream fogged state. I knew instinctively that it was for me, but did not understand why. I didn't understand her reaction. It was strange and I watched her walk down the isle with refrigerator cases on one side and shadowy isles on the other. I stood there and watched her walk away with her little blue plastic grocery basket swinging a counterpoint to her gate. She was still speaking under her breathe as she turned down one of the isles and stepped into a pool of shadows.
I jumped as the case next to me hummed to life in an attempt to keep its charges cool. Its sudden action startled me and I turned to give it a reproachful look. I then saw myself in the glass door. Reflected back at me was a small child. Well not small but not yet grown. Maybe a girl of 11 or so she was not quite a child and yet still not a youth. I was wearing simple clothing. A pretty yellow cotton dress reflected back at me. It was straight cut with little purple flowers sewn or embroidered upon it. The waist was synced in with a thin yellow ribbon. The frock fell mid calf and my feet were bare, or maybe I had simple sandals. I'm not sure which. Long night black hair hung past my shoulders. Tanned smooth cheeks framed guileless and soft brown eyes. Thin slender legs and skinny arms emerged from the dress. I saw a girl child reflected back at me. One who had just had a craving unlike any she had before. At a time when she should have been sleeping she was out searching for the answer to her need.
The Me started to supplant the dream childs awareness and I wondered at a few things while I struggled up out of my dream. What had the look from the saddened women meant? And, what was so wondrous about this chocolate that would have driven me out at night, alone, to have it? The first was a good thought and the second a bad one. I was sure that this child did not know what this craving foretold. And, that it would not be the last craving like this she would have in the coming months. Having no memory of the child before the beginning of this dream I do not know if she had yet started on her path to becoming a woman. The encounter with the mother in the store lead me to suspect that this was perhaps a different path. I feared this child was on the path to becoming a mother before she had even started fully down that of a woman. The brown eyes that reflected back at me from the glass looked like ones that still played with her dolls and had a whole imaginary house set up in her mind while playing make believe at home. I don't think she knew what path she was on or that there were even paths to begin with. I suspected that this slim and outwardly fragile seeming child was totally unprepared for this. I am thankful I have no idea how she got there.
When I woke fully, back in my body, achy and painful as it is, I missed the carefree lightness of a child. I felt a heaviness settle on my shoulders as I sat up and removed the comforter. I felt profoundly old when thinking of children like this one, who become adults all too soon. I picked up my cane from my bedside and did the only thing I could think of at 2:00 in the morning. I limped into the kitchen and made myself a glass of chocolate milk and ate half a pint of double chocolate ice cream in the dark. It helped soothe the imaginary craving but not the weight on my heart. By the light of a cracked fridge door I finished off my glass of chocolate milk and lit a clove cigarette. The crackle with each inhale made an odd counterpoint to the wisps of my dream hovering around my head. It helped me ground back to Me. Not a healthy way to do it, granted, but it worked. Sadly it did not remove the weight upon my heart. I fear there really was a little girl in a yellow dress somewhere looking into a glass cooler door. If so, I hoped that she was able to glimpse through my eyes and draw strength from them for what is to come. May she be loved and may she know that she is loved. Always may she know love. Please Gods let her know she is loved. Always. Please.