“Are you still wearing that?” his sister-in-law asked him as she drove them to Megamall through the torrential rain.
Carlo looked at the small black pin on his chest, stark and bright on his faded orange jacket. He shrugged. “I keep forgetting to remove it.”
Erika only looked at him for a while before her 9-nine year old son, Jasper, clamored for her attention. Carlo looked outside the car window where the streets were being swept clean by the typhoon rain.
He didn’t feel like accompanying Erika and Jasper to the mall and its crowd. But his sister-in-law had asked for his help, saying that she needed someone to watch over Jasper while she ran her errands. Carlo had acceded to her request, feeling that he had been neglecting his nephew for some time. And besides, he liked Jasper.
After separating from Erika, Carlo brought Jasper to Powerbooks. He didn’t want to but he wasn’t sure where to take a 9-year-old boy.
Sarah and Carlo never had a chance to become parents. But likewise, going to Powerbooks brought too many painful memories. They both loved books and they respected each other’s silences as they individually prowled the shelves. There would be times when they would hang out for the whole day at Powerbooks.
At the entrance, Jasper immediately ran towards the colorful children’s section. Carlo hesitated and then took a step inside. It felt strange to be inside a bookstore without Sarah. But then, it felt strange to open even a book. All of their books had piled up gathering dust at their small one-bedroom apartment.
As he wandered through the various shelves and book bins that proclaimed a sale, he looked at all the books with their white pages full of text he didn’t recognize and the different covers he couldn’t bother to care for.
But then the side entrance that led outside the mall flew open in a storm burst of rain and wind and all the book pages on the shelves and bins started to flap and thrash. As the shouts of dismay echoed through the store, he saw people raising the books they were reading in alarm.
He picked up one book and opened it to see all the pages had Sarah’s face printed on it over and over again. He dropped the book and picked up another with the same result. He turned around to see all the flapping pages had Sarah’s face on them.
He fell to his knees and started laughing uncontrollably. He didn’t know when the laughter started to become howling tears.