The Rummager

She rummaged through the drawer, trying to find it. Shouldn’t something just stay where its kept? More often than she liked, things didn’t. The worst part was, she wouldn’t even know why! It required her to exercise intense focus so that she wouldn’t get distracted by everything else she came across in the drawer full of old things.

The longer she searched, the more she wanted to give up. Her mind kept revisiting memories that lay untouched for years together on contact with these objects. She had been in such situations before – they were time consuming, and often led to exhaustion. She didn’t need any more of that. So she simply decided to push away the many thoughts hatching in her head, comparable in quantity to drops falling on a downwind window on a rainy evening. The struggle was real, but not all battles could be won.

Suddenly she felt a familiar shape in the grip of her hand. It felt like a different lifetime now, since when she got it. It was a plain old key-chain she had used back in middle school. She remembered thinking how its elegance was a result of nothing more than its simplicity. As she lifted up the old piece of metal attached to a chain to examine it, she shifted her weight back so as to lean against the wall. She couldn’t fight anymore, and succumbed to the immense flood of emotion and thought filling her spirit.

She remembered how she locked the door while leaving and then walked through the snow to the bus stop every morning, the cold air that chipped at the exposed skin of her face. Her pink snow jacket, black gloves, wool cap and leather boots protected her from the frosty weather that she loved. She smiled at the memories, somewhat grateful for those experiences. It had been a decade and a half, and she could already sense the holes and gaps this stretch of time had introduced in her recollections. She wondered if it would get worse.

“Have you found it?” came a voice from the hallway, footsteps making way to her room.

“Not yet” she admitted. “Remember how cold it used to get in Connecticut?”

“Who wouldn’t! But you used to go play outside alone. No matter how cold it was, it never stopped you.”

She smiled at her brother, holding up the key-chain.

“Hmm, I wonder where mine went. Well I’ll just take yours if I can’t find it” he chuckled, starting to move further down the hall.

She gave him a short, narrow-eyed stare before he was out of sight and the smile made its way back onto her lips. She put the little piece of metal back where she found it and continued the search.

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What Sunglasses Go With

As I wrote out the prescription, the child had wandered back to a wall with display pieces. He took off his new glasses and reached up to the full extent that he could to unmount the black soda frame. Having done so without dropping them, he quickly put them on his face and ran to the mirror. He let a muffled giggle slip through in excitement, distracting his mother from her hunt for a pair of sunglasses.

“What are you doing, Raj!” she said. It wasn’t a question. “Don’t you understand? I have already bought a pair for you. You don’t even have a black shirt to wear with it!” she squealed. “Don’t embarrass me!”

“Then let’s buy a black shirt! I want a black shirt for my birthday!” wailed the child.

“Don’t be stupid. Your father has already given you a gift. Stay put now. Go sit on that chair until I pay the eye doctor.”

With disappointment pouring from his gait, the child slumped onto the singular chair next to the billing table. Some minutes passed as I waited for the bill to be printed from the age old machine. The child had taken a liking to the rubber band ball and kept himself occupied in the meantime. “Here’s the bill and prescription” I said to her. The woman walked up to me with the pair of sunglasses she had most recently taken off the shelf. It was a bright-yellow retro style frame complemented with dark brown glass. Then again, she herself was much more flamboyant than the poor pair. “I’ll take these too” she chimed in her high voice.

“You don’t have a yellow shirt, mom!” said the kid. “Yeah, I do, Raj.” “No you don’t, but I guess it doesn’t matter, they’ll match your undies”

What did you say?” she flushed.

“The yellow undies you wore today, mom. Remember?” That left her dazed, the pink visible under the twenty feet of makeup on her face as she stared at mine expressionlessly. A slight grin broke across my face and I quickly regretted it. She attempted recovery, fishing for cash in her purse and then thrusting it in my face. “Just his one pair a’ glasses” she barked, and reached for the door, her legendary undies visible for a moment under her white pants, or I could have just imagined that part. She then scurried out the door, managing to stomp her feet at the same time. The 8-year-old followed, trailing behind her, completely unaware of what he had done. He still had the rubber band ball, but I decided against stopping them for that. Maybe he knew what color underwear I was wearing too.