The Booth

All my life, I have watched people get so many things. So many things… It was always something they wanted, whether it be as advanced as a CTS Communicator or as obsolete as a stuffed animal. But I look at my life and I realize that I have never gotten the one thing I always wanted.

Time.

Time is a valuable thing. One may not realize it but time gives us energy, life, hope. Time is like a drug; too much of it can be deadly but too little can leave one yearning for more. Me? I never had time.

But then one day, that changed.

I was always busy doing something or the other, so when I realized that I had a whole hour to myself, I leapt for joy.

I went to the mall with Samantha and we didn't do anything special—just hung out. But then, I saw it. A little booth in the corner, covered with sparkling jewels and intricate designs. On top were big, bold letters that were elaborately placed there. They were of a foreign tongue; I couldn't read them.

I just had to go in.

I left Samantha to stare at a pair of diamond earrings on display and ventured off towards the booth. As I got closer, I could feel my heart pumping in my chest, my palms cold and sweaty and a slight blush stealthily crept up to my cheeks. I pulled open the curtain and saw a thing, red-haired woman smiling toothily at me, as if she had been waiting for me. Still smiling, she beckoned me to close the curtain and sit down. I did and then she spoke to me.

"Let me see your eyes," she said, and it was when she said this when I felt a sharp pang of fear. NOBODY asked anyone to remove their insubicter the covering for your eyes that even radioactivity couldn't penetrate. Our insubicter was so that our identities would be hidden from anyone who tries to steal. After all, everything one owns is identified by the genetic makeup of his or her eyes these days.

But the soothing aroma of this funny booth but my mind in a haze and I removed my insubicter. I felt the woman's eyes pierce into my own, even though she was still wearing her insubicter. She gave me a strange look—was it pity? I could not mull over this too long for she spoke again.

"I see that your heart craves for something," she said, "but I am afraid that it is unattainable. I am sorry."

I blinked.

"Excuse me?" I asked. She frowned.

"Time. Is that not what you yearn for?" she asked. I felt my heart speed up.

"How did you know?" I asked. The strange lady waved her hand.

"Your eyes, of course! They are the gateway to your soul! It's a shame people keep their eyes covered these days. I would take my insubicter off, if only it weren't for the law," she leaned toward me, as if about to tell a secret, "You know, there was once a time when people were free to gaze into each other's eyes!" My eyes widened and at that, she leaned back and giggled.

"You see? Your eyes! I can tell that the news came as a shock to you! Yes… true beauty lies in one's eyes. Shallow pools of color that are filled with emotions. Love, pain… and anger." The woman sighed.

"It seems as if all that was once pure and beautiful has been destroyed by greed. There were once trees—TREES—luscious green and tall. They would reach toward the sky, which would be a sparkling blue. None of this purple and gray haze, oh no, it would be clear and bright…"

All of a sudden, I got the feeling that this woman was old, incredibly old. Her vast knowledge presented her as old and wise. But how old? I do not know. Perhaps as old as time itself. So I sat there, in the small dark booth, and listened to her stories of water so clear, you could see the rocks sparkling like diamonds at the bottom. Stories about people being honest and bold, about life and love.

Time had no meaning anymore, as I sat there and heard these beautiful words pour out of this lady's mouth. It seemed that time had suddenly become endless and infinite. I became oblivious to the sounds of the bustling world outside. It was just me and her, living in this imaginary world that she was describing. For the first time, I felt calm and peaceful. The atmosphere was serene and all calamities had vanished. I felt free, not restrained or bound by the strictures the world places on every individual. Hours passed by and I was completely unaware of it.

Then, she stopped. I was abruptly snatched out of my relaxed state and into the world I had always known.

"What?" I asked. She stared at me.

"It's getting late," she said. "You better be on your way home." I sighed and knew she was right.

"Well, thank you for your time." I got out of my seat.

"Wait." She said. I turned around, curious. She smiled secretly.

"I was wrong."

"Excuse me?"

"I was wrong when I told you time was not attainable. It is, and if you look hard enough, you may find it in the least expected place."

I simply smiled and said goodbye. Obviously, this woman did not have any clue of what she was talking about. I exited the booth and gasped. There was Samantha, still admiring the diamond earrings.

"Oh hey! Where'd you go off to?" she asked.

Before I could answer, she spoke again.

"Never mind. Come on. Let's go upstairs. We only have about forty minutes left. Let's go!" Samantha said, winking. I then allowed her to drag me towards the escalators. Out of pure instinct, I turned around and looked back at the booth and gasped once again.

It was gone.