Finally the day arrived when the cart was delivered to the apartment. There was a storage shed just off the courtyard where residents could store personal belongings and that is where it would stay at night and when it wasn’t being used. The friend of a friend of Chong’s cousin stood warily in the apartment as Nyaa handed him the deposit. He counted it out three times, licking his fingers each time and never smiling. He stood just as warily as she pulled the cart away from him in the courtyard.
“Remember,” he growled, “any damage and you won’t see your deposit again!”
“I understand,” smiled Nyaa, unable to contain her excitement even in the face of his sour demeanor, even when he spat on the pavement as he walked away.
“You’re sure he said it was alright to paint it?” Chong asked.
“Oh yes,” said Nyaa. “He said it was fine, and it will wash off the plastic part anyway.”
By now a crowd had gathered, and it seemed to Nyaa that there couldn’t possibly be this many people in their apartment building, nor this many people who didn’t have to do some sort of work during the day on their entire block. They stood and watched as Nyaa and Mr. Hyiep painted the base of the cart a bright, cheery green.
Then, Nyaa handed Mr. Hyiep two smaller brushes and she opened some little cans of paint: Green and red and black for the outlines. Mr. Hyiep had studied calligraphy in school - before the universities were all closed and the professors sent out to the countryside - and he still had a good hand. He dipped the first brush and stood ready to take her instructions.
Nyaa stood still for a moment, taking in the empty canvas that was the big, front sheet of plastic. Then she spoke:
“Have it say: ‘Teas to Cure All Ailments”!”
Read the whole thing here.