“Seconds” she whispered to herself. “Pawn Shop and Second Hand dealer,” she looked from the rusty sign above the door of the shabby shop squashed between two tall concrete office buildings down at the creased old receipt in her hand.

It was squat building with two darkened and dusty display windows piled high with old furniture, stacks of forgotten books and yellowing lampshades. The sign on the small door said ‘Open’.

Analyn Kira was in her forties. She was tall, slim, with blue eyes and pale skin. She had platinum blonde hair, tied back into a bun. She loved to ski, sky dive and, oddly, knit. She wore a smart, pale gray pant suit with a white skivie, a black fitted woolen jacket and sensible shoes. She turned the handle on the old door and ventured inside.

The place was cluttered with old tables, chairs, paintings, vases and, in one corner, an old piano and double bass. Every spare inch was filled. There was a small counter at the back of the shop with a register and an open doorway from which a white fluorescent light emerged.
“Hello?” she went to the counter. The scent of dust and old newspaper was almost suffocating. “Anyone back there?”

“Give us a sec,” a man’s voice called out. “Just getting’ a cuppa,”
She nodded. A plump little man emerged with a delicate little porcelain cup of tea in hand. He wore a brown woolen cardigan, had a rather large paunch and a kind, friendly face. What little hair he had left was white and rimmed his round head sparsely. His eyes were puffy and he peered at her over round spectacles perched on his nose.
“Now, how can I help ya, my dear?” he said smiling
“I’m Analyn. We spoke earlier,”
“Ah!” his eyes lit up. “Of course! Good! Great! I’ve got it back here. A bit of a tale, this one,” he said as he turned around and shuffled back into the light filled room. “Ya know, I’ve been tellin’ everyone about this. Veeery interesting,” he called back to her. “Ah, here it is,” he came out holding a small box. “I remember your pa, believe it or not. Then again, of course I remember. It’s not every day somethin’ like this crosses this counter. Worth quite a bit, even in those days. Hmm, the ol’ days,” he paused and smiled to himself. He opened the little box and placed it on the counter.

She stared down at it, her hands suddenly sweaty. She picked it up. Her hands were shaking.

“Exquisite workmanship,” she whispered. It was more beautiful than she remembered, made from silver with mother of pear inset in a delicate symmetrical pattern of a flowering vine. It felt solid, warm, vibrant and almost alive in her hands. The silver surface was rich with glorious undertones that seemed to shimmer beneath the surface with a soul all its own. It had once belonged to her great great-grandfather.
“Getting’ a bit old now,” Joe said, then paused. “Normally, I’d be closed up for the day by now,” he added meaningfully.
“Ah, yes, of course. I should go,” she took out her cheque book, wrote one out and handed it to him. “Thank you so much,” she said.
“No, no. Thank you,” he said as she picked up the box and put it into her hand bag. “Oh, just one more thing, luv. Out of curiosity.”
“It’s Dr Kira now, I take it?”
She smiled. “Yes. Actually, it is. I’m a surgeon.”

Analyn made her way back to the hospital. University had been very expensive. Her parents had struggled but they had managed to fund it. She had never actually given any thought to where that money had come from. Not once.

She got back to the room. She drew in a deep breath and stepped in. It was quiet. The lights had been dimmed and there were more flowers – roses this time – by his bedside.

His face had a grayish cast to it. His cheeks were sunken and his eyes were closed.

She opened the box and took the pocket watch out.
“I ,” she began . What could she say? She wanted to tell him that he had inspired her, that he had shown her how to suck out every last experience, every last moment from life. She wanted to tell him that it wasn’t fair, that she missed him terribly and nothing would ever fill the void in the very centre of their family, no matter how much time passed by. She wanted to tell him that she would dearly miss their arguments, their walks and their late night chats about history, science, philosophy and why the sky was blue or why Neanderthal man had died out. She wanted to say so much.

She laid the pocket watch at the end of his bed and stood there in silence for a long, long while.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “For everything.”


Dona Tantirimudalige

Narre Warren South, Australia

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