As soon as the double door was shut, a warm, yellowish light that felt like the warm sun on an early morning flooded the room. It was a room of several leisure rooms confined within a room. On one corner was a wide screen, a corner for gamers. Adjacent to it was a desk and wall of shelves for builders and crafters. Next to that was for writers, illustrators, and planners, with a wide desk with smaller compartments. The last corner was for readers, with shelves of books. In the middle was a small, square table. In front of them, between the corners with the desks were large, capiz windows that were sealed shut.
All corners had glass screens of the same size, with small levers, handles, and copper buttons, all labelled with materials that matched their assigned corner and gears and handles. Gaming consoles and devices for the gamer’s corner; building and crafting tools for the next corner; paper, pens, inks, coloring materials for the third corner; and, title and author command for the mini library. Each also had comfortable looking chairs that matched its corner and desk, both in aesthetics and in function.
“Kindly choose your leisure pursuit, sir,” she said as they both looked around.
“Builder,” he answered almost immediately, slightly tilting his head toward the right-hand corner in front of him.
Almost as soon as he said this, there was a soft beep, and the top of the small table in front of them created a small opening and out came a small chest box. She went forward and opened the chest, gestured for the man to pick up what was inside it. There were two circular objects that were only a tad bigger than a thumb and were made out of something that looked and felt like parchment. The man went forward and took them from the box.
“Please attach these disks to your temples. You may stay and spend your time doing your leisure pursuit on the builder’s corner while waiting for the trading to cease, which will be over in twenty minutes,” she motioned her hand on the builder’s corner glass screen, where a small image of an hourglass not yet upright was shown. “As soon as it is done, kindly replace the disks in the chest box and exit on that door,” she gestured at the door on the left side of the room, between the corners for readers and writers or illustrators. “You may take with you your project or leave it on the table, whatever pleases you. I will meet you outside to show you the Sands. Do you have questions, sir?”
“No, thank you,” was all he said, as he attached the small, thin disks on each side of his temples.
“Very well, I’ll see you later, sir,” she replied and left the room through the exit door.
As soon as she exited the room, the lighting changed. Every corner of the room went dark except for the builder’s corner that remained well illuminated. It was as if the room was made up only of that corner.
He went forward and sat in front of the desk. He tapped on a part of the glass screen with the label wood, and as soon as he did, the hourglass turned upright and its sands started to fall.
A small compartment in front of the desk opened and a couple chunks of wood was pushed out of it. He tapped a few more labels, and again, several compartments opened and pushed out the items that corresponded with the labels he tapped: a small chisel, a ball hammer, a sheet of sandpaper, and other small carving tools.
He started carving.
The bottle opener keychain was well-kept in its original box tucked neatly inside a small cupboard, used only when needed, which was very seldom. It was from the man’s distant cousin who came from abroad and collected antiquities and other random trinkets that did not usually trade for much. The cousin got this from a suitcase that was abandoned near his home. The cousin said that inside the bottle opener keychain’s box was a short love note that didn’t reach its supposed recipient for two possible reasons: either it was rejected or it never left its source. Almost everyone he gave the bottle opener keychain to refused it for its lack of use, except for the man. He gladly accepted it, fascinated with its design and assumed history and origin. And as years went by, its novelty faded away.
She made the payneta, the man’s wife, an end product of one of her experiments as she tried her husband’s hobbies when they were still on the early years of their marriage. It was one of her better-looking payneta; her best ones were used by her daughters. This one showed her first attempt to carve intricate patterns on the top of the payneta. Despite the year, the wood still bore the droplets of blood the wife shed from the tiny cut wounds she sustained from her carving attempts.
The pocket watch was handed to the youngest daughter by the man himself. She seemed to be fascinated by small gears and the way they work. It came from the same distant cousin who could not remember where it came from. It didn’t work despite being replaced with a new battery, but the young girl didn’t care. She kept it and gently turned its knob from time to time, pretending that it worked. She also used it when she played with her sister and friends, sometimes wearing it on her waist like a real pocket watch, and sometimes pretending it’s a compass when they’re exploring.
Sometimes, she had this leisure to see what memories could be extracted from the items being traded for.
Alongside the extraction screen was a monitor that showed the man’s vital signs. Everything was normal.
There was a short buzz. She pulled a lever beside her monitor, and below it, a billowing smoke escaped from the small compartment, and a small jar emerged as the smoke evaporated. It was two-thirds full of sands that glimmered like gold and silver and at the same time looked dull like wood. She picked it up and placed it on a glass case that was suspended in mid-air inside the wall behind the counter.
A soft beep, and the door opened. Out came the man who was putting a small item in his pocket.
“Hello, sir,” she said as a greeting. He nodded in return as he approached the counter where she was standing. “Here is the Sands in the jar, sir,” she added and gestured at the glass box.
He looked at it and smiled. She could see the dancing sands reflected in his eyes. Then, he nodded.
She then pulled two metal fences on each side of the wall and closed it at the center, then pushed a button beside it. The glass box with the jar, along with the metal fence went up the hole in the ceiling and disappeared from site. Then the hole was immediately sealed.
“And here, sir, is the receipt,” she said and handed him a copperplate inscribed with symbols and numbers, at the back was a barcode. It had a thin chain. “Please keep it until the item traded for is delivered to you. You need to hand this receipt to the delivery staff. The item will be delivered to your house on Friday, at eleven in the evening, is that correct, sir?” she asked as he stood in front of her, between them was a counter.
“Yes, that is correct,” he answered and wore the copperplate like a necklace and hid it under his shirt.
“Very well, thank you for your transaction,” she said and handed him his bag.
“Thank you very much, too,” he replied as he went out of the room, followed by her. To their right was the stairs down to the silong and the tarangkahan. To their left was the short hallway that led to the common room. He went down the stairs and headed for the tarangkahan, which was pulled open by her. A final wave of thanks and bye, she gently closed the heavy door behind him.