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Chapter Seventeen

"I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine."
~ Song of Solomon 6:3 ~

Izumi had never before experienced what it was like to be loved and cared for by someone unselfishly. She was safe, and protected. As a little wildflower, who was wind-blown and burnt with the sun, abused by this world, she found shade, at last, from a tall green tree who took notice of something so tiny and insignificant. And instead of ignoring the flower's pain, (which it could do very easily from so high a vantage), the tree sheltered it, and tended it. To be content with a discarded bloom, and find in it beauty and fragrance, everything to be desired - only true love can perform such a transformation. So Izumi found refuge in John, and her rest was sweet.

As morning dawned through the window of the little yellow house, Izumi opened her eyes. Careful not to awaken John, she quietly got out of bed and tiptoed to the kitchen. With a quick glance at the bare cupboards and empty refrigerator, came the realization that John was not used to eating at home. She shook her head sadly. With determination, and very little experience, she made up her mind to go to the grocery store. Izumi changed into her new blue dress (the only article of clothing she had, except her school uniforms) and opened John's wallet that lay upon the dresser. It took every ounce of courage she had in her small frame to do something so bold, "But," she reasoned to herself, "he must eat!"

The cool wind from Three Mile Bay perfumed her face as she stepped out into the sunlight. She looked upward, and witnessed several small clouds scudding across the sky, as if bent on a happy errand as she was herself. The path from the little yellow house led to a street teeming with trucks and cars pulling boats much bigger than themselves. Izumi looked about her. People were walking down the sides of the road, fishing poles in one hand, and a tackle box in the other. Izumi followed the road, keeping a lookout for anything resembling a supermarket. The busy street did not bother her. In fact, she was glad to see so many people. It reminded her of Tokyo. Before she had gone very far, she saw a large parking lot packed with cars. People were pushing grocery carts, and unloading them into their cars.

"So this is what a supermarket looks like in America," she mused. In Japan, there are many large stores, but it is rare to find one with a parking lot. Most people carried their groceries, or came prepared with their own carts.

The store doors slid open as she walked through, and a gust of cold air chilled her face. The huge store clamored with the sounds of music playing over the loud speakers, and the sounds of squeaky carts slowly making their way down the aisles. She walked to the closest aisle and scanned the shelves. For the first time that morning, she felt out of place. Unfamiliar labels proclaimed the virtues of unfamiliar products. For a second or two, she felt like retreating. But, her desire to help John, made her stand fast.

"God, please help me," she silently pleaded.

"May I help you, miss?" asked a short portly man with a balding head. He wore a white coat with a name tag that read, "Store Manager." His short stubby fingers clutched a brown clipboard as he waited for her reply.

"Do you sell Japanese food here?" she asked, her voice betraying her confusion. The short man smiled widely, "Of course!"

A loud speaker crackled as it interrupted the music with, "Manager at checkout five. Manager at checkout five." He motioned to a man who was busy stocking the shelves.

"Show this woman to aisle six." The manager walked away without waiting for a reply. The man obeyed, and Izumi soon found herself on more familiar ground.

"Thank you," she said, as he left. Izumi picked up the items she felt were necessary, and made her way to the checkout. The clock on the wall warned her that the morning was growing late. She sighed as she looked at the several people in line ahead of her.

continued on next page...
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