I was at my favorite place in the world. Scavenging through all the cheap junk I could find, searching for any good condition books that gripped my attention. But as I continued to rummage the mess of boxes, I found nothing except the older versions of technology.
DAMNIT, I am so over technology. Ever since people have been able to wirelessly connect their phones to their brain that's all life has become, technology this and technology that. People do not even seem to be awake, like the cashier of this store, he just stands there all day and talks to others online and doesn't even realize what's going on in the store.
AHH, no one even returns books anymore at their local thrift shops anymore because they sell everything online. More than before anyway. Now there's only clothes. Which is honestly, the most boring part of the store. At Least for purchasing. There is one good thing that clothes provide and that is fun. The pile of clothes in this place are all colossal and they always stare down on me. 5 Foot tall rainbow colored waves that eat anyone who jumps in them. This is the best part of the thrift store, behind the books. It's similar to how people describe jumping into leaves in autumn, but it actually does sink you in when you jump.
I spang into the tsunami of clothes and sat there in the dark. I could smell the must of the previous wearers however, that's part of the experience. I sit here sometimes and peek through the crevices of cloth towards people to simply see what they are doing. I am curious, and It's interesting. I wonder if they are acting as background characters in my life and what they do when I am no longer around. I like to see if they know things that I don't and how different their lives are from mine.
“Do they have a papa or a mama?” or how they talk is interesting too. From doing this as many times as I have, I have noticed that people change the way they talk to each other depending on if other people are hearing distance. I thought that was just my mama since she can be scary when we are alone and very nice when we have company in the house. But apparently it's normal. Although, I don't know who decided this would be a rule.
Sometimes, while I snoop around in the ocean of clothes I randomly find buried treasure. They come in multiple shapes and sizes but are easy to identify when I touch one. They pull my long blond hair, or pale pallid skin in ways that clothes do not normally. They are odd objects and not soft. I have to be careful with this as last time I thought I found something new but it was a piece of paper and when I reached for it I got a papercut. IT HURT and when I went home mama called me many names which did not resemble Pepper.
This morning however, when I was under the clothes I noticed something pressing against my leg. I thought I was sore from the walk I took to get to this place. But to my surprise when I reached with my cemented hand to massage my leg I felt something that felt silky and tickled like animal fur. I wiggled my leg back and not hearing any hissing I decided to reach again. This time I grabbed it. I got a grip of something and pulled it outside of the mountain of cloth. It took me a minute to get out as well and when I did I landed face first on the floor which left my right cheek burning. Luckily the employee was too distracted to notice my ruckus.
As my eyes stopped jangling in my skull they landed on the fur. The fur was brown like a bear and it wrapped around 2 times with something white in between like if it was protecting something. Finally feeling less dizzy, I opened the book and saw hundreds of pages written in longhand. It was a book. A large book with an enormous font. It was my lucky day. Although the book lacked a front and back cover it would be sufficient for this month's read. I decided to take the book. I replaced a price stamp from one of the kid section books onto the fur book and paid 99 cents for it. NICE.
Outside the store I found a quiet bench which I jumped onto and began to read. The first page marked the date of May 24th, 2020- 30 years from now.
The author wrote almost illegibly with blue ink. The first 5 lines of the page were overwhelmingly optimistic. Repeating similar phrases of...
“I am grateful for my family”
“I am grateful for today's food”
“I am grateful for a healthy body”
The consecutive lines consisted of tasks someone would complete. The tasks were numbered from 1st to 10th. Not sure which numbers were more important but they were there. The next lines that filled the rest of the page were my favorite. They consisted of a concise summary that condensed key events in someone's day.
“Today I went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients to make soup for my pregnant wife. It was very hard to do as Joseph kept crying and throwing his sippy cup on the floor. Being a father is hard. But I look forward to when my kids grow up”.
Every page had the same format for the following day. These events had little similarity besides the same people showing up, Joseph the baby, the wife Kristien, and Eric Domingo the narrator. I only know he is the author because many times he repeats his own name in quotes from this wife. I found interest in his life. I could spy on what he was thinking, how he felt, and what he was going to do all from inside this book. It felt personal, real, and exhilarating knowing this was a real person and real events.
The pages were flying by the minute in my hand. By the time it was noon I had completed most of the book. Although it was not exactly a normal book it had the foundation of one. It had a rising action, climax, and falling action just like my English teacher taught us. Respectfully, the wife being pregnant, Kristien giving labor, and finally taking care of the babies although the story abruptly ended when the babies were about a month old.
When I opened the final page a plastic rectangle fell out of the book onto the cement walkway. When I picked it up I saw in color a smiling and beautiful wife with red hair holding her baby she had just given birth to. The picture was in the hospital with Eric Domingo smiling gleefully with his face upside down covering to the top half of the photo.
Seeing this It became glaringly obvious to me that this is not a published book for the general public but something that was a personal memory. If mama saw this book she would assume I stole it and yelled at me. I need to return this book before I get home at 4pm for mamas lunch.
I needed a lead, something to follow to find the owner of the book. I would have searched for the photo on the internet, however, I do not have a phone because of my disdain for technology. I ran into the store, shook the cashier by his shoulders and as he was startled he gained consciousness and looked down on me with his wide brown eyes and narrowed eyebrows. I told him if he could find out the address of Erik Domingo. He looked confused but he probably understood I did not have a technological device in my brain as they were only 15 year old technology and are expensive for a dependent after all. The worker hovered the internet and found hundreds of people who had this name. That was not going to work.
I reached in my pocket and showed him the picture. He blinked hard and screenshotted it. He found the hospital's location where the picture was taken. With that information he called the hospital and asked about Eric Domingo's wife. Bingo. I did not receive an address however, we got a phone number from the family. Reluctantly, the employee called the family. Said that a young girl named Pepper was looking for them to return some lost items. I could not hear the conversation since it was all inside the employee's skull; however, I was anxious at the thought of hearing the voice of the person whose personal story I read. Would he know that I peeped into his personal life?
The employee looked irritated by the person on the phone as he had to explain this was not a scam call. He snatched the picture of the family from my hand and looked at it blinking hard. He continued...
“I sent you a picture of one of the items”, drops of sweat began to go down my forehead as the man continued to talk. However, before I knew it the man did a great sigh of exhaustion then shook his head 90 degrees to hang up the phone. He got the address.
Oizys Avenue 8294
Too embarrassed to ask for the route to the address I thanked the agitated employee and sped off. I had a duty.
Fortunately, it does not take much effort to find a location since most have an internal GPS. Although the streets were barren with more cats than humans. I eventually ran into a frail lady who was sitting down staring at a meadow of violet and yellow daisies. It would have made for a beautiful art piece as the colors from her blouse matched the colors of the flowers. I walked up next to her and I asked her for directions and when she immediately turned toward me I was almost startled. Her eyes were bloodshot red which would have been scary if she did not have blue eyes that together looked like sour candy. She got up from her chair almost falling over and asked me what I had asked again. I repeated my question. She gave an effort to smile but it was weak resulting in more of a scare. Then her eyes looked like they had become lost into the void as she searched the web then she gave me directions. When I turned back I saw looking at me and with a stream of tears thundering down her face. Every time I turned she stared at me in a maternal loving yet scary fashion.
Gasping for multiple deep breaths of air from running for over an Hour, I was left with an estimate of 15 minutes to see the man before I had to start running home for dinner, considering I would run slower to get home. The house was humongous, probably 10x the size of my own. The colors were all white with gray around the borders of 3 large windows of the house that would lead someone to guess that the house was at least 2 stories tall. The door was much larger than the mountain of clothes in the thrift store. My heart raced faster than it did when I was running. I was not excited to be meeting this person although I knew so much about them already the feeling in my chest made me hesitate. Minutes passed, minutes I did not have, and the fear of my mama overtook the fear of meeting a stranger at his own home. I did 3 great knocks. My heart did not stop and continued to feel as if it was crawling out of my neck. No Response. I knocked harder this time. I heard a voice yell back. I heard footsteps. My heart fastened. Too fast. In a spark of a second I dropped the book and the picture and hid behind a great bush located in their garden. Luckily my practice of jumping into the clothes made it easy for me to hide my body. I happen to find myself in this scenario often, way too often.
A man came out of the house. His short hair was fizzy all over the place and he had pale skin. The eyes were sunken, and his face was old, and wrinkled like an old fat vegetable. His appearance was nothing like that of the picture although he resembled it enough to be the same person. His posture was already hunched but this became less obvious as he bent over to pick up the items on the steps. His eyes opened slightly larger. And his gray eyebrows flared up in astonishment. He opened the book flipping through the pages, stopping at intervals to read. His eyes watered and it rained over the floor under him. It was hard to watch a man at least 5 times older than me cry. My eyes became itchy and red as I watched. He grabbed the polaroid and his eyes widened and blinked hard. He turned around and walked into his house.
That day I ran back home. I had arrived home exhausted. By the time I saw mama my face was the color of a tomato. Mama however, was busy cooking and the rest of the day she only yelled at me for not washing the dishes. I made it in time.
The following morning I ran back to the house. I decided that I would talk to the guy and tell him I brought him the book. Maybe I would get some candy or cookies after seeing the way it moved him. Older people always have cookies. When I arrived at the house my heart raced again but this time I stood there ready. Someone watching would've thought I was about to evict the family by my posture. When I heard the footsteps I felt myself swallow a great deal of saliva, I almost choked. But when the door opened it was not an older man but a healthy adult with beady red eyes and a stained white shirt.
I asked him if Eric Domingo was home.
He stared at me for a long time. His face was pensive and his eyes looked into my soul. The hair on my arms pricked up and my heart accelerated more.
He said his name is Joseph, the son of Eric. He continued to say that although he was not close to his father for the past 15 years since they both got surgery to connect their phone to their brain and began to live separate lives on the internet- he did love his father. He noticed his father was rather different with the use of technology as well. It affected him more than it did Joseph. His cognition and physical function deteriorated, he began to stare off into the distance often, and he would always be worried about work being connected to his online job. Eric slowly moved into a state of mild depression. But as the situation did not worsen there was no urgency to resolve the issue. A person's mental health will not change unless something breaks the pattern and Joseph found no way to break the pattern to make his father more pleased with life. But when he came home yesterday, he found his father lying on the bathroom floor. His mouth wide open full of white foam, fully uncolored, and with a silent heart beat. The only items that were there were pills, multiple broken phones, and a brown fur covered diary.