“What more could I lose?” said the mirror’s reflection.
Five words. After which, Lana Rios made all the necessary preparations. With no money, no glory, not even people to call her own, she wrote what she should have written when she was still bounded to something, anything…anyone.
But there was only the silence of crushed hope in the room, in her life. As pen was put on paper, the only sound she could hear was the own beating of her heart.
And it was not enough.
The climb to the old house takes its toll on her body every time, but she would never trust her money with anybody else. Not when her sons already threaten to sue one another over her money even before she managed to decide what casket she would want for her funeral.
They would never get a single peso from her if she could help it, she swore.
When she reached the front door, it appeared like there was nobody inside at all. But at seven in the morning, most houses appear uninhabited from the outside. So she pounded on the front door and called, “Rios! It’s the end of the month. There’s no getting away from it, hon–open up!”
She would have kept on pounding her frustrations on the poor door had she not seen the white cat coming from the back portion of the lot–smeared all over its mouth was something that appeared like blood. But it ran off before she got a closer look.
The back door was open. She cursed under her breath the sheer idiocy of young women today. They ask for bad things to happen to them with their own lack of vigilance, and to her, most of them deserve it. “Rotten at the core they all are, selfish little sluts”, she’d say. She should have forced her out ages ago; she wasn’t certain why she let this lodger stay for this long.
But she does. Some truths, though, we fight to keep locked up.
Inside, you could see everything from the back door to the front. She expected the lack of furniture, but this time everything was gone except for the table underneath the curtainless window. Aside from that, her only greeting was the sight at the center of the floor.
“Strange damned jars,” she muttered as she approached.
They were made of different materials–vinyl, glass, wood, clay, a few were even covered with fiber-like material–and each one a different size and form from the other. All of them were imprinted with exquisite detail, most were human expressions. Some were big enough you could stuff a little kid in there; some so small it would never fit a mouse. She was just beginning to wonder what her lodger would do with these when she saw the handwritten note beside the biggest jar at the center of it all.
And she read it–why wouldn’t she? There was no one else there.
The early morning light came almost unfiltered through the windows. With it, you can see her color drain with every word she consumed. But she could not stop, not yet. And once she did, only then she saw the artificial light coming from underneath the bathroom door.
The handwritten note never reached the floor when that door opened.
Dear Mrs. Santos,
I’m sorry it had to be you. But you’re the only one who comes here. The payment for this month is inside the table drawer. I’m afraid it’s not enough. It’s the only money I have.
I am lonely, Mrs. Santos. I think you are, too, but at least you have your sons. I do not have anyone. The neighbor’s cat visits, but he only likes me sometimes.
The jars are all I have, ever had. Aren’t they beautiful, Mrs. Santos? They’re my life’s work. They never left me, not even at times when I have left myself, lost in my own loneliness. But perhaps they stayed because they weren’t able to do anything else. Would it have been different if they were real people? Would they have left me then?
People never truly stay, Mrs. Santos. All we do is left each other.
I’m not sure what love is. But if it exists, I gave every ounce I have to these jars. At least it feels like that. They’re different versions of myself, all humanity in me. They look different from the outside, yes, but they’re all really the same inside.
My life has no point now, Mrs. Santos.
I thought if I could get anyone to love these jars, these material versions of myself, then I could still have a purpose for living. But nobody did. They find it grotesque, strange, not fitting for the eyes, and they have only resonated my own thoughts, my own thoughts, Mrs. Santos.
I am unloved, and if I cannot be loved, what is the point of living?
Nobody will look for me. You won’t have any trouble with that. My only regret is that I cannot leave you enough money to use to dispose of my body. Maybe you could sell the jars? But nobody would want them, not if they belonged to a suicide case. Funny how people think of killing themselves too often but condemn the ones who actually manage to do it. We are all self-righteous hypocrites. If only we support each other more. If only.
Just please get rid of the jars for me, Mrs. Santos. Please? I could only kill myself once.
Again, I’m sorry it had to be you. But there’s no one else.
I’m sorry, Mrs. Santos.