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Godís Convenience Store
by Gae Rusk

This essay received an "Honorable Mention" in the book "Best American Essays of 2008"

British Columbia, 2002

God owns a convenience store in Vancouver. It sits on Broadway not far north of the University, and God sells everything there, lottery tickets, pastries, beer, paper towels, but what I need is cash, so I park and go in to use the storeís convenient ATM, which actually works. I happily buy two hundred of Godís Canadian dollars.

In this incarnation of running a small business in Vancouver, God made Himself into a male from North India. This time around, God made me an Oklahoma female raised in New Mexico. I look up from the ATM and see God standing behind the counter watching me, and I wonder if His look has worked out better for Him than mine has for me.

After counting my cash, a surge of saliva impels me to buy something convenient to legitimize my use of Godís ATM, but what? Not fruit pies. Not fancy air fresheners, not arthritis-repelling bracelets, but what? I circle the aisles, passing cases of chilled beverages and racks of salted chips. Selecting none of these, I spiral inward to find a candy display bulwarking the cash register at the heart of the store. I love candy, and I love that God sells candy, and I am thinking this very thought when I spy pink grapefruit Mentos®.

I first heard about this new flavor from another Mento® junkie, who bought a roll in Tokyo, and I have suffered Mento® envy ever since. Now, glory be to God, here are pink grapefruit Mentos® for sale in His extra-crowded convenience store on Broadway.

I pull out $20 Canadian still warm from the ATM to pay for four rolls of Mentos®. I want them all, all the rolls, thirty or more, but I canít practice greed right in front of God. I canít lie and claim the candy is for my sonís soccer team, so I plunk down the $20 Canadian next to that meager amount of candy, and it is then God grabs my hand and studies my two rings.

They are reddish-purple stars, either rubies or sapphires, depending on the light and whom you believe. One is set in gold, I had it made on New Road in Kathmandu many years ago, and my older daughter gave me the one set in silver. I wear both rings twined together on the marriage finger, a reminder that I am wed to my children and wed to myself, and it is up to me to make it all work for everyone.

God shoves the Mentos® aside and grabs my wrist. I worry the candy will roll away, but it doesnít budge and, instead, sits there sparkling and humming. I warily watch God studying my two rings. He peers into my well-used palm. He asks my birth date Ė God forgot my birthday? He must be getting old too.

Godís hands feel rough and dry, the hands of someone who works for a living. They are perfectly warm and vibrating. His eyes, mirrors of mica and mercury, compel me to listen. They adjure me to remember what He says as He reads my palms like the lyrics of two hymns in a key I have never before heard.

When God works out my numerology on a sales slip, the results make Him smile. He tells me many true things right there at the checkout counter, then He works the numbers for my three kids, for my parents, for my ex-husband, even for my first boyfriend, and I am transfixed by it all.

When I have to leave, pulled away from this encounter by an appointment with my publisher, God leans forward and tells me I have a big angel living in my heart. Huge, He says. Enormous, He confirms. According to God, at least half my heart is filled with this lively angel, who irradiates my blood and drives my deeds and generally lights the runway of life for me, and for anyone else who lands nearby.

God finally releases my hands. I look at them to see if the pulsing sensation is visible. My hands look normal, except the two rubies are strobing brilliant stars. God blesses me as I stumble off, my stunned hands clutching 4 rolls of Mentos® in prayer position. He warns me to drive more carefully. He says He has noticed my tendency to be other-minded, and I marvel that He knows me so well.

Then I drive more erratically than ever, because my angel is wide-awake and doing Pilates® in my chest, my rings are blinding oncoming traffic, and it is hard to hold the wheel with my hands still needling back to normal.


© Copyright 2008. All content by Gae Rusk. All rights reserved.