Women- mothers, expecting mothers, and widows- they would stop Mrs. Midori in the parking lot quite often, their hands out-stretched as if to stop the woman whether she wants to or not, their mouths gaped open in such dramatic smiles as if they're witnessing the birth of a kitten, their large breasts spilling over the shopping cart. "Oooh, look at that pretty green hair!" Then they would ask the most moronic question: "Is this your daughter?"
Forcing a cheerful-looking smile on her face, Mrs. Midori would nod, casting a glance down at her one-year old infant strapped into the car-seat which had been placed into the shopping basket, saying, "Yes she is."
And now that is has been deemed okay to say so, the other woman would say: "Oh, what an adorable little girl you have!" And the conversation would continue until both adults were bored with the other.
"-What's her name?"
"That's a lovely name."
"Thankyou. I thought so too."
"Oh? Hahaha!" The woman would start to edge away, as if avoiding a sudden out-break of bronchitis. "It was nice meeting you!" she would call out, quickening her pace to find her own car.
Letting out a sigh, Mrs. Midori would turn back to her car and continue loading her groceries. "They're going to write stories about you, Kimyo," the green-haired woman would say as she wedged a box of frosted animal crackers between the twin-pack of Always pads. "You're just too pretty for your own good- just like your mother."
Little Kimyo would smile and kick her legs in the too-small carsest, waiting her turn to be placed into the car. She would watch the small flocks of birds flutter under the cars and snatch up gum wrappers and choke down hot, brittle frenchfries from the sun-boiled parkinglot. Taking a large container of rice out of the basket, her mother spoke to her about how hard it was to teach her to use chopsticks, and how disgraceful it was to use a fork when eating rice. Mrs. Midori couldn't find room in the trunk, since half of the space was taken up by a dozen boxes of diapers(they were on sale- half off), so she left the child alone to put the rice in the passanger seat.
Her cell phone began to ring, so the mother crawled into the car to find it.
The wind blew just enough to send the shopping cart rolling backwards.
Mr. Kowai pressed his hands into the cardboard, forcing the crates of Ramen Noodles into the seat. He quickly slamed the door shut, locking them in. He yawned widely, then turned away and started walking over to the driver's side.
Just then, a shopping cart with a car-seat in it crashed into the driver-door. Mr. Kowai yelped, flinching backwards before realizing what had happned. Putting a hand on the side of the basket, the man looked down at the child and smiled.
"Hello little one." he said. He looks up and around, his eyes searching for a suitable mother. But Mrs. Midori in inside her car, the door having shut behind her while she was digging for her ringing cell phone. "Where is your mother...?" he wonders aloud.
Little Kimyo yawned.
Mr. Kowai yawned back, and looked at her with a tired expression. "I guess whoever you belong to doesn't want you anymore. I guess it's that weird green hair you have..." He leaned down and grabbed the carseat by the handle, then carried it into the back of his car, opening the door with one foot. He buckled the seat in the middle, then looked at her for a long moment, thinking.
Little Kimyo grinned, unafraid, having always had strangers shower her with affection.
An idea came over the man. Mr. Kowai removed four twist-ties from his pocket and leaned over the child, and strung up each section of her long pretty hair so it resembles a clover leaf.
"There." said the man, sitting back. He hesistated, then said, "You look like a yotsuba."
The infant squealed happily, flinging her arms.
"It can't be helped..." The man put a hand on the girl's forehead and spoke in a mock-offical voice, "You are here-by named Yotsuba Kowai!"
Little Yotsuba grins and fiddles with the seatbelt before deciding to drool all over it. Following the drool with a disgusted expression, Mr. Kowai noticed a binkie between the child and the seat. He plucked it out, wiped it with his sleeve, then popped into the girl's mouth.
The man got out of the car and placed himself in the driver-seat. He started the car and clicked on some kind-friendly radio station, which began singing the Japanese numbers. Singing along with it, Mr. Kowai drove put of the parkling lot, where a woman with green hair began darting back and forth, screaming "Kimyo," over and over and over...
Four years later, Mr. Kowai would take Yotsuba and move out of town, leaving the wanted-posters and police reports behind.