Olivia pulled up to the front of the strip mall. It wasn’t exactly the kind of place she expected to go for this sort of thing. All of the usual suspects were there: a video game store, a vitamin shop, women’s clothing, and a Mexican restaurant. She wasn’t here for any of those things. This visit was for something far more personal.

Scanning the store fronts, her eyes finally fell on her destination. MOJO ACUPUNCTURE. The neon open sign flashed in the window. It looked like one might expect an acupuncturist’s office to look. There was potted bamboo growing in the window fronts, and various decorations of East Asian influence could be seen.

Glancing back at her text messages to verify that this was indeed the right address, Olivia pulled the key out of the ignition and exited her car. “Deep breath,” she told herself. She wasn’t the first to try this and she couldn’t imagine being the last.

A pleasant chime greeted her as she entered Mojo Acupuncture. She could hear water flowing from a desktop fountain and the smell of incense wafted through the air. It wasn’t what Olivia would describe as a pleasant smell.

Her face clearly betrayed her as a man appeared from the back. He was very skinny, with a full beard and a long ponytail. Mala beads hung from around his neck. This couldn’t be anymore stereotypical, Olivia thought.

“Moxibustion”, the man offered.

“Excuse me?”

“The smell. It’s called moxibustion. It’s an ancient form of healing that involves burning mugwort to increase healing.” He smiled gently.

Olivia nodded. Her palms were sweating profusely now. How does one broach this subject? This was all so new to her.

“What can I help you with today?” the man offered as if he was reading her mind.

Glancing around nervously, “I was referred here for some of your… specialty treatments”.

The smile faded away from the man’s face. “Were you now? Have you done this before?” She shook her head.