"Is your heart for sale?"
My dogs were delighted with the youngest boy, who returned their delight, patiently talking to them. The grandmother--a very stylish and young grandmother, with dark hair and a simple sheath dress, was amused by the cats.
The group browsed a long time, while other customers came and went. They found a stack of what looked to me to be boring textbooks, but were delighted; the grandmother taken aback at my prices--not, as I thought, because they were expensive, but because the whole armful of books came to under twenty dollars. Then the littlest boy asked about, maybe, fantasy. A pause while he browsed that section with keen interest, and his brother waited quietly, and his grandmother asked if there was anywhere close by where she could buy flowers. Sure, even the little market down the road has flowers, cut bouquets and little plants.
And her eye lit on the bowl of stones near the rose chair. The youngest child had of course already found it, early on, and we'd talked of where the stones had come from and what they were. One of the oddities of my shop is that, besides more critters than you'd ever expect, you will find strange and pretty things dotted about on the tables and shelves--plants, flowers, curios. And bowls of stones, or beach glass.
This bowl--well, really it is a cream colored rectangular dish of some sort, a nice piece I found years ago in a junk store--holds mostly smooth river stones of various shapes and colors. They are good to touch, pleasant to look at. There is also a chunk of amethyst, and a smooth piece of tiger's eye. And a heart.
The heart is made of soapstone; it was carved by a woman in Kenya, who dyed it deep pink and speckled it with little dots, and it rests beautifully in your hand if you pick it up. I like the look of it, sitting bold and pretty amongst the browns and greens and swirled rocks from the local riverbed.
She picked up the heart, and admired it. "Is your heart for sale?" she asked. I laughed. "Well, that was a funny thing to ask, I guess," she said. And I said, no, the pretty stone was simply there to be enjoyed.
She accepted it. As she paid for the new stack of books I asked the older boy where they were from. "I'm from here," he said, "but my grandmother and little brother live in San Francisco. I stay with my dad; he lives with her".
"My daughter was killed here 9 years ago today" said the elegant slim woman. "A drunk driver hit her car--just up the road a bit"
I asked the girl's name. Rachel. Oh yes, I remember Rachel--and yes, she had a little boy, he was now 12, and in front of me; the older one was her step son.
She's buried in the little cemetary where a number of my dear friends also rest.
"Well, nice talking with you--goodbye dogs!" she said, and turned to go.
I took the heart out of its bed of stones and gave it to her. "Please take it" "Are you sure?" "Of course"
No one can ever buy my heart--but I'm quite willing to give it away, over and over again. The pink stone heart should be resting on Rachel's grave tonight. I'm glad of it.