They were the only items on the list written on a pink sticky note with red ink. None of them were crossed off.
“What do you have there, Aki?” My grandmother asked. I found the list on our way out of the hair salon where Grandma got her hair done every Sunday afternoon.
“Someone’s shopping list,” I answered.
“It’s trash,” Grandma said. “Why did you pick it up?” She hobbled off toward the car. “Throw it away.”
Someone made this list for a reason; I couldn’t throw it away. I pocketed the list.
~ ~ ~
“You’re crazy,” my brother, Haruki, said.
“Actually, it sounds exactly like something Aki would do,” Aaliyah, my best friend since fifth grade, replied. We were at lunch. I told them about the list I found and what I planned to do with it.
“You’re going to buy all these items and then what?” Haruki asked.
“Find a use for them,” I said. “Someone out there is bound to want a turkey or gum or a lottery ticket.”
“Who the hell wants a turkey? Thanksgiving is over,” Haruki argued. We’d been this way since we were born; always on the opposite side of things. It got us into plenty of arguments and our parents had to step in multiple times to prevent us from killing each other.
“Someone will,” I insisted. “We just have to find them.”
“I'll help you,” Aaliyah said. “I think it will be fun.”
“Great. Let’s get started today.” The bell rang and ended the conversation. I couldn’t wait to cross the items off the list.
“I still think this is a weird idea.” Haruki groaned and kicked the ground. He was annoyed with me because I made him stop by the market on our way home from school. We stood in the meat section of the market looking for the turkey.
“Stop being such a downer,” I said to him. I peeked into the cases and spotted a turkey. I picked up the twenty pound turkey and placed it in the cart. “I think The Universe wants us to do this. I got the last turkey in the whole store.”
“What a way for The Universe to spend its time,” Haruki said sarcastically.
“Stop it. Next on the list is gum,” Aaliyah said. “What flavor should we get?” We headed toward the checkout.
“It doesn’t say, so I guess we can just pick one ourselves." I got in line behind a father and his twin boys.
“Can’t go wrong with classic peppermint.” Aaliyah gave her opinion. “What do you guys think?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Haruki threw a package of peppermint flavored gum on the conveyor belt.
The line went by pretty quickly. I paid for the items and we all shuffled back to the car. We weren’t of age to buy lottery tickets, but I knew I could come with my mom this weekend to buy one. My parents usually did the bulk of grocery shopping on Saturdays.
On our way to the car, I spotted a boy, a few years older than me. He paced outside the coffee shop and wore a black blazer at least four sizes too big. He shook like a leaf and was talking to himself.
“Wait a minute.” I headed toward the boy.
“Now what?” Haruki groaned from behind me. I heard him and Aaliyah follow me.
“Hi.” I approached the boy. He stopped pacing and looked at me.
“Hi,” he said shyly.
“I’m Aki. This is Aaliyah and Haruki.” I introduced them as they joined my side. “What’s your name?”
“T… Tiernan.” Tiernan’s voice shook. He cleared his throat. “Sorry. I mean, I’m Tiernan.”
“Whatcha doing out here, Tiernan?” I asked.
“I’m… I’m here for a job interview.” Tiernan told us. “It’s in, like, ten minutes and I can’t seem to… I’m a bunch of nerves.”
“Just relax. Breathe,” Aaliyah said. Tiernan took in a couple of deep breaths.
“It’s it your first one?” I asked. Tiernan nodded. “It’s going to be fine. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get this job. They’ll be others.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Tiernan said.
“We have some gum. Want some?” Haruki offered.
“I could use some,” Tiernan answered. Haruki unwrapped the gum and handed Tiernan a stick. He popped it into his mouth and chewed.
“Remember to spit it out before the interview,” Aaliyah said. “My father always said it was impolite to speak while chewing gum.”
“I will,” Tiernan reassured her.
“You got this,” Haruki said. “This interview will be a piece of cake.”
“Feel better?” I asked.
“I do. Thanks.” Tiernan gave us a small smile.
“Tiernan Roberts?” A blonde man came out of the coffee shop.
“That’s me.” Tiernan stepped forward.
“Come on in.” The blonde man headed back into the coffee shop.
“Good luck!” Haruki and I said at the same time.
“Gum!” Aaliyah reminded him. Tiernan discreetly spit out his gum and with a wave, followed the man inside the shop.
“I hope he gets the job,” Aaliyah said as we made our way back to the car.
“He seems capable,” Haruki replied. “He needs to relax though. It’s only a job.”
“Guys, it’s the list!” I said. Aaliyah and Haruki stopped in their tracks.
“What do you mean?” Haruki asked.
“The list! It made sure we would all be here to provide Tiernan with a bit of luck before his interview!”
“That’s stupid,” Haruki said. “A complete coincidence.”
“I don’t think so.” I took out the list. “I’m telling you, this list… this list is going to help people. Good things are going to come from it.”
~ ~ ~
“Aki! There you are!” I had barely entered the school grounds when Aaliyah came charging at me a couple of days later.
“What’s wrong, Aaliyah?”
“Nothing. In fact, it’s the opposite of wrong,” Aaliyah smiled.
“Come here. There’s someone I want you to talk to.” Aaliyah grabbed my hand and led me inside the Language Arts building. She opened the door to a classroom and poked her head in.
“Hi Ms. Ng,” Aaliyah said. Aaliyah and I stepped inside. Our Language Arts teacher, Ms. Ng, smiled at us.
“Hello girls. What can I do for you this morning?”
“Ms. Ng, I saw a poster outside the science building this morning,” Aaliyah said. “It’s about a food drive for a charity?”
“Yes. I volunteer for a charity called Holly’s Dinners. We provide meals to the less fortunate year-round, but we like to throw a special dinner during the holidays,” Ms. Ng said.
“Would you like a turkey?” I knew where this was headed.
“A turkey?” Ms. Ng chuckled. “That certainly is festive.”
“It was on the list.” I told Ms. Ng about the list and the large turkey currently in my freezer.
“Sounds like a wonderful thing you’re doing,” Ms. Ng said when I was done. “We could definitely use a turkey for our holiday dinner.”
“Great! It’s yours.” Maybe it will make people’s holidays just a tiny bit cheerier.
“Bring it by tomorrow morning,” Ms. Ng said. “The teacher’s lounge has a refrigerator. I can keep it in the freezer during the day and I'll take it home after school.”
“You got it,” I said as the bell rang for first period.
“You’re more than welcome to stop by and help out,” Ms. Ng said before we left. “We could always use volunteers.”
“We’ll see you there.” Aaliyah and I left Ms. Ng’s classroom.
“Isn’t it cool?” Aaliyah said to me. “Thanks to your list, Ms. Ng and her charity have a turkey for their holiday dinner.”
“It is,” I agreed. “That only proves the power of the list! Someone needs the lottery ticket and we are going to find them, Aaliyah.”
~ ~ ~
“It’s the only item left,” I told Mom. “Please?”
“Fine.” Mom finally agreed to buy a lottery ticket. With the purchase of the scratch-off lottery ticket, we finished grocery shopping and decided to get lunch before heading home.
We chose a nearby Chinese restaurant because Mom was craving some Chinese food. We all browsed the menu for a while before our waitress came to take our orders.
“My name is Morgan, I will be serving you all today. What can I get you?” Morgan asked with a smile. She looked to be in her early twenties with dark hair and eyes. We all placed our orders and Morgan took them back to the kitchen.
We all had full bellies by the end of lunch. Dad paid the bill while I went to use the bathroom.
The bathrooms were located down the hall, a few yards away from the entrance to the kitchen. As I passed the kitchen, I overheard Morgan talking to one of her coworkers.
“Marcy’s so angry at me lately,” Morgan said.
“Why? She’s always been such a happy and smiley kid,” her female coworker responded.
“I told her Santa might not be stopping by this year. It’s been hard with paying for school, bills, and that car accident I got into the other week.”
“That was a minor fender bender.”
“Still, my insurance premiums have gone up. Things are a bit tight this year. I’ve tried to pick up more hours. But you can’t expect a four year old to understand all of this.”
“Someday she will, Morgan. Marcy will not be mad at you forever.”
“I just wish… I want her to be happy this Christmas.”
“It’ll be fine. As long as she has you, she will be happy.”
“Yeah. I think you’re right. Table four’s food’s ready.” I hurried out of the way before Morgan and her coworker emerged from the kitchen, each of them holding a tray of food.
“What took you so long?” Haruki asked when I returned to the table. Morgan was taking another table’s order.
“Mom, do you have that lottery ticket?” I asked, ignoring Haruki for the time being.
“Yes.” Mom pulled the scratch-off lottery ticket from her purse.
“Can we leave it to Morgan in addition to her tip?”
“Okay.” Mom placed the ticket on top of the bills Dad left for the tip. “Are we all ready to go?”
“Yes.” I scribbled a note on the back of the receipt wishing a Merry Christmas to Morgan and we left.
Our car was parked in front of the restaurant. Through the glass doors and windows, we saw Morgan come up to our table to take away the remaining dishes. She paused when she saw the scratch-off ticket.
“Wait a bit,” I said to Dad. Dad nodded and we watched as Morgan scratched the ticket. After a minute, a grin broke out on Morgan’s face. She called over her coworker and showed her the ticket. They both had smiles on their faces.
“Looks like it was a winner,” Mom said.
“Yeah. I’m glad.” I was happy for Morgan. She deserved a little Christmas cheer. Morgan’s coworker pointed through the window at us. Morgan turned and waved at us. We waved back. Then Dad started the engine and we headed back home.
Turkey Gum Lottery ticket