Mark Johnson
3 min readMar 20, 2024
Pasta sauce isle

Cynthia sat in front of a piping hot bowl of ramen noodles from her favorite noodle house, King Dun, with her mind on Mark. From her point of view, the thoughts that she was thinking were understandable, yet if you asked Mark, he’d tell you they were typical or the regular train of thought upon meeting someone in a wheelchair.

As her noodles cooled, she reflected on how charming he was. They had met entirely by chance, their worlds colliding at about the middle of aisle 47, both looking for the best pasta sauce. Cynthia had noticed Mark earlier in the store, passing by him and giving him a polite smile as he had smiled at her first. Cynthia expressed no words as she walked by. It wasn’t until they both ended up at the pasta sauce section that Mark engaged her in conversation by saying they needed to stop meeting like this.

The icebreaker got Cynthia to laugh, which led to Mark introducing himself. She was still a bit apprehensive about meeting someone in a grocery store and giving her real name, but the energy Mark gave off made Cynthia feel at ease. So, as they both continued looking at the pasta sauces on display, Mark questioned if she liked cooking. Looking up from his basket with several items in it on his lap. The two of them were on the aisle alone, Cynthia replied. She wanted to cook, but she needed to improve at it. Mark laughed charmingly, claiming he was not good at it, making self-deprecating comments on his disability, which made Cynthia blush.

Mark then asked as he saw they had both come looking for sauces, which, if any, she had tried or could recommend. Cynthia stepped toward the display and pointed out two brands Mark had never tried nonchalantly scoping her out. She was draped in athletic wear, sporting a fit body as if she had just come from the gym. Cynthia then told him about her favorite of the two brands or the one that had given her the best results. She even showed him the list of all-natural ingredients on the back of the jar.

They then spent what seemed like a real moment side by side as Mark eventually chose the sauce Cynthia had recommended, leading up to Mark’s ask if he could get her number. Cynthia blushed again, seeing how forward and charming, yet made the whole interaction seem effortless. Cynthia obliged Mark with a smile, punching her digits into his phone. Mark then made another self-deprecating joke on himself that made Cynthia smile even more, and the two began to part ways, looking back at each other from the ends of the aisle till they disappeared.

It was the next day, and Cynthia and the piping hot noodles were temped and ready to eat. Deep in thought, Cynthia was thinking about the chance meeting — her meeting with Mark, a guy in a chair — wondering how all of that might work for her. Then her phone rang. It was Mark. She took a breath, gathered herself, and answered her phone, letting him know how good it was for him to call.



Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.