With light, deft fingers, the teenaged girl behind the mini-mart counter took the three-inch sheet of paper and folded it into a triangle.
She sat behind a rack of candy, blocked on the sides by bags of chips, miniature flashlights, novelty and other impulse tchochkes. Sitting there in the two-foot space between the counter and a wall of cigarettes, she folded her paper triangle again.
And again until it became a little paper castanet, a triangular clam shell with an open mouth to grip a space.
She then added it to the object.
The object was sitting on the little square foot of counter space not covered in those impulse buys. It was made of nothing but folded three-inch sheets of paper gripping each other with their open clam mouths.
It was about the size and shape of a pineapple, but built upward from below. About two thirds of the way up, she had started to plant the pieces outwards on either side, forming the bases of what I could tell would be wings.
Row by row, line by line, she had been building a winged pineapple out of folded pieces of paper grabbing onto each other.
“It will be,” she started in an Eastern European accent of some kind.
She stopped, waving her hand a bit as she struggled for the word.
“Big goose,” she finished.
The girl herself was blonde, a bit baby-fatted but pretty of a sort. She looked too young to sell anything from the giant wall of cigarettes behind her, but I don’t know if that’s me being bad with ages or the corner mini-mart owner being bad with laws.
She had a long, thin-lipped smile as she one by one folded the sheets and placed them on the goose.
“Are those lottery tickets?” I asked.
That long, thin-lipped smile tried to broaden, but humility and modesty tamped it down. Whatever she was about to say, she was proud of.
“Just win,” she said, looking at me directly for the first time.
I looked at her blankly for a moment.
“Just… winning lottery tickets?” I asked.
She tried to tamp down another proud smile, casting her eyes to the floor as she did.
She stood and pulled a three-inch piece of paper from somewhere behind the counter.
“You know how when someone win it print out…” she said, trailing off and showing me a $2 payout stub.
“That’s beautiful,” I said.
I said it a bit too excitedly to keep the conversation comfortable. She turned away, but she did it with that big proud smile she finally failed to hold in.
“Is just something I know how to do,” she said.
As she turned, she placed the $2 stub on the counter. I knew that later it would join a magnificent flying pineapple of winning and luck.