She didn’t know how much he had in the bank when he died; whether he had any savings, whether he had debts that needed to be paid. Decades after, when she finally arranged to sell the house, I am told there were huge back taxes taken out of the sale amount. The only memories I have involving actual glimpses of money: every morning before he left for work, he pushed a fistful of soft bills across the table— for the market, for groceries. Did anything extra have to be pleaded for? And so the sewing she did on the side makes sense. One morning she took me by the hand and said Don’t tell of our errand today. We took a jeepney to the market where her friend owned a dry goods store. Her friend handed her a paper sack and gave me a treat. I never asked about it, and she never told. I’m haunted by exchanges: what was borrowed, what was returned. What was bought, or sold. Before my eighteenth birthday, she gave me a ring with tiny sapphires, my birth stone. She believed in the power and endurance of gold. Last year, before I left, she plunged her hand into a dilapidated purse and took out a knotted handkerchief; in its folds, a pair of diamond earrings, a matching pendant on a chain. I have them in a box in my drawer. Sometimes I take them out and look at them, touch all their surfaces dented with bits of brilliance.
In response to Via Negativa: Scrip.