The bell above the doorjamb jingled as Concetta entered the store. Warm air dispensed her shivers.
Removing her cap, she shook the outside chill from her hair, then brushed the snow from her coat. Relieved to be inside now, she turned her mind and eyes toward the reason for her visit.
Concetta knew the store well. She had visited Morgan’s General Store and Sawmill in her growing years. Scents from sawdust and oil hardened floors flooded her nostrils.
Mr. Morgan’s fresh groceries and deli meats recalled immediate images of times her grandfather took her. Favorite among them were the butterscotch buttons bought by her papa to indulge his little girl. Now grown, Concetta wished her grandfather were with her on this visit. Amid the warm memories and good feelings greeting her on this day, a touch of angst accompanied her.
She looked around to see if Mr. Morgan was nearby.
John Statham Morgan was a gentle man, by this day aged and weathered around his eyes. His face receded from his nose, his hair was the color and texture of white silk, and his smile, gentle as he, rendered assurance to his patrons. Many a citizen of the hamlet of Lewisburg paid homage to his store, for each possessed a story and a memory of both John Morgan and a favorite ware from his shop. From behind the counter, John Morgan became wise observing the idiosyncrasies of the townspeople.
And then, there were the two jars, the ones kept on the shelf behind the counter, the ones from which each citizen would ultimately decide between, for all must decide before full citizenship could be granted. John Morgan had the duty of offering each the choice, and thus, his wisdom.
Concetta’s day of decision had come. When she was twelve, her grandfather explained this day to her. Then, she did not fully understand and during the ensuing years she thought of this day little. But in the last year, with the day approaching, she ruminated often. Some days her thoughts were light, unconcerned. Others, her thoughts brooded and feared the consequences. “What if?” she thought.
The morning rush and preparations, the snow and the outside left her mind. Concetta’s eyes fixed upon the shelf behind the counter. She walked with a slow, tapping cadence looking for Mr. Morgan. Reaching the counter, she stared at the two jars. Topped with patinated lids, one was labeled Grace, the other said Curiosity.
“Hello, Concetta. What can I get you today?”
“Oh, Mr. Morgan, I did not see you. Today is my day. I have come to make my decision. How does this work?”
“It is simple. You will choose the contents from one jar or the other. Each will require from you a journey,” he said.
“What is in them,” Concetta asked.
“The consequence of your choice. Once you choose, daily the choice will remain.”
“What is the cost?”
“The cost is the same. Yourself.”
“And will it return to me?” she asked.
“The choice is yours,” he said.
For those who have ears.