She only intended to take a quick glance at the jars displayed on the shelves. But once more, she was drawn to the dancing weak light from the small sun roof illuminating the dusty room. She felt a sharp pain in her hand as she realized she was clutching the door handle with all her might. The pain sent her back to her senses. She took a deep breath and reminded herself that she’d only take a glimpse—afraid of whatever rule she was about to break.
The door made a loud creak as she pushed it wider. She instantly looked up at the nearest shelves that housed hundreds of jars. Each jar looked unique. Each differed in shape and size. Yet all of them contained sands and ashes of different colors and quantities. Sands and ashes that danced to the rhythm no one else heard, moving and flowing in their own way, ready to take away anyone who stared and bury them deep in their depthless movement.
She took another deep breath. She noticed that the newer shelves were now almost full of jars. She needed a new set of shelves ordered soon.
She had to force her eyes shut as she closed the dank door, its hinges creaking as if protesting.
Her hand ached as she rested her elegant pen on its stand. Her eyes focused on the elaborated details that carved and formed her glass pen. She stretched her fingers to relax her aching hand. These fingers gently creased the folds of the paper that bore her longhand. She picked it up and gave it a thought. With all this technology, she could not understand why hand-written memories costed so much more than the digital ones.
‘They’re just memories, anyway,’ she thought.
And the one she just immortalized through pen and ink was worth—she was certain—more than enough for her to avail another expensive service of physical enhancement.
Feeling sated with how she saw, in her head, her younger-looking self, she threw the paper in her purse and walked out of the room, her expensive heels clicking loudly.
He looked at her with his kind eyes which were met by her sweet smile. When he didn’t accept the rusty gold pocket watch she was handing out to him, she shrugged her small shoulders and tossed it carelessly inside his small bag. Then, she rushed outside to her playmates, picking up pieces of fallen leaves and twigs on the ground to use them as pretend ingredients for a sinigang or prito.
He stared after her, now with a kind smile on his face. He felt bad and grateful at the same time. He never thought it was possible to feel two different things altogether, but he was certain that he was experiencing both at that moment. When he saw her laughing merrily with her friends, he tore away his eyes from her and stared at the contents of his small bag. Inside it was the rusted gold pocket watch, an unused bottle opener key chain, and a pretty payneta. These may not seem like they’re worth much, but they’re enough for whatever they’re worth trading for.
He went out of their home, bid the little girl and her playmates farewell, and walked toward the stretch of the road, the trinkets in his bag jingling—muffled yet cheerful.