Route to Peace

Route to Peace (Week 2, Day 3)

“What’s in your hand?” Rita held her hand out in front of her and waited for her son to do the same.

“Do I have to show you, mama?”

Rita looked at his round face and worked hard to keep her expression stern even though she wanted to melt. “What do you think?”

“I think I have to show you.” Kwante’s face crumpled and his bottom lip popped forward into the sweetest pout.

“You open your hand and I’ll watch you.” Rita pulled her hand back and rested it on her knee. “I won’t touch whatever you have, I’ll just listen.”

Kwante kept his head down and slowly opened up his hand to reveal a small shell. “His name is Fatty.”

“What now?”

“His name is Fatty.”

Rita started to reach for the shell and Kwante closed his fingers and pulled his hand to his chest. “You said you won’t touch!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Rita put her hands up in front of her. “You’re right. I won’t touch. Why did you name the shell Fatty?”

Kwante gave her a skeptical side eye as he opened his hand again. “He’s not a shell, mama. He’s a snail.”

“A snail?” Rita stood up and backed away in the same breath. “Where did you find a snail?”

“He found me, mama. I didn’t try to find him.” Kwante took a big breath, blew it out, and added, “that’s not all the way true.”

Eyebrows up, Rita asked, “what part isn’t true, Kwante?” When Kwante answered in a whisper too quiet for Rita to hear she lowered herself down onto the ground and crossed her legs. “Come on, Kwante, tell mama.”

“I made him find me, mama. So I have to take care of him.”

“You’re going to need to line some things up for me, Kwante, because I am not understanding right now.”

Kwante’s eyes widened and he leaned forward, keeping the snail close to his heart. “I did it from Yoga, mama. He found me because of the yoga.”

It took everything Rita had to keep from laughing out loud at his earnest pronouncement. They had been doing yoga together every morning for about a month at the recommendation of Kwante’s teacher. The woman had bent over her desk and scribbled for a few minutes before handing Rita a piece of paper with little drawings of stick figures in different shapes. The top of the sheet was labeled “Hatha Helpers – A Route to Peace” which had made Rita need to stifle a giggle. The whole thing was beyond out of Rita’s comfort zone but, for Kwante, she would do almost anything. Almost.

“Kwante, I don’t think snails do yoga, and I know I don’t want a snail in our apartment.” Rita stood up. “You need to return that snail to the grass or wherever you found it and we need to go.”

Shaking his little head Kwante closed his fingers around the snail again. “Mama, please? Fatty needs to come home with us. He found me and we match.”

This is part of the 2022 500-Word Short Story project. Comment with “Tell me more” if you’d like to vote for this to move to the next round.

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