Midnight Convenience Store

fiction, Feb. 2019

SATOKO

Looking at the lights of the convenience store at midnight, I always feel relaxed for some reason.

On one particular starless winter night, wearing a fleece jacket over my pajamas, I went to the convenience store next to my apartment. An automatic door welcomed me, who already removed makeup and wore too-large glasses.

Onigiri (rice ball) with cod roe, tuna and corn salad, veggie drink, instant noodle and a midnight snack. Attracted by the scent of the oden next to the cash register, I ordered some of them, too(1).

For someone like me, who works and eats alone in the middle of the night, the lights of the convenience stores are equally warm. My loneliness somehow disappears when I find the light floating through town at midnight.

As I paid for my food, my eyes met those of a clerk, who seemed to be a college student working part-time. Slightly long bangs hung over his forehead, making him look cool.

I suddenly became conscious of my sloppy appearance and felt embarrassed. So, I tried to get my change as quickly as possible, but it backfired. I dropped the coins, slipping from my sweaty hands and making a loud noise on the floor.

“Ah, sorry.”

The clerk said and picked up the coins. I thought I dropped the coins because I was attracted to his face and was not focused on the change. I also apologized to him again and again.

He might have thought I was awkward. I was caught by such a thought and looked up at him timidly. But then, I met his soft smile.

“Thank you. See you!”

His smile made me relieved.

I knew he smiled at me because he was trained to do so, but still, this cold midnight became something special for me.

When I was heading for the exit, I found a dull, rosy-colored nail polish, which I hadn’t noticed before. I turned back to him again and said,

“……Excuse me, I’d like to buy this too.”

While I was regretting my appearance again and again, he was ringing me up very quickly and politely handed me the change to ensure the coins did not drop this time.

“Thank you.” I said to him in a small voice and left the convenience sore.

As I walked back out into the winter night, the hot oden in the plastic bag comforted me and kept me warm while I walked home.

Footnotes:
1. An oden is a Japanese-style pot-au-feu consisted of boiled eggs, Japanese radishes, potatoes etc. Very popular food in winter, almost every convenience store sells it.

written by

SATOKO

Writer(Essay&short stories) / Studied Japanese literature at Sophia University, Tokyo. Grown Up in Wajima, Ishikawa and now lives in Toyama.
I like writing&cooking. I like tiny corners of everyday life in a north western Japanese local city, which I like to put into words that feel cozy for you.

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