Target doesn’t have any more of the pens with brown ink. I need brown ink. I’ve driven past a gift store several times on my way to Target. Reminiscent, it’s called. I am curious about the name. I can’t discern if the name makes me sad or hopeful. Maybe they have stationery supplies.
There is one other customer in the store when I walk in, a middle-aged man looking at greeting cards. His lips move silently as he reads the cards, and every now and then his eyebrows shoot up in mild amusement. A faint, evocative fragrance fills the store. A woman sits behind the counter, straight silver hair gliding past her shoulders. She wears black horn-rimmed glasses. Her lips are stained red, in deep contrast with her radiant teeth as she smiles and asks if I need help.
“Yes, well, first I wonder if you carry pens with brown ink?”
“Of course. On the back wall we have an array of all colors. Brown included.” She points with long tapered fingers to the back of the store.
“And your store smells so good. Is that fragrance a candle?”
“It is. The scent is called ‘Sea Salt and Amber Driftwood.’ You’ll find the candles on your way back to the pens on the left.”
I choose four slim pens. They feel luxurious in my fingers. I find the coral-colored candle and choose the largest one with three wicks. I want that luscious scent to fill my house, the accompaniment for recording my dreams. The “Night Maps,” I call them.
On my way back to the counter to pay, I spy a display of cashmere gloves, scarves, and hats. I reach out to touch the softness of a pink pair of gloves. There are black ones too. I pick up the pink pair before I can change my mind. Grab the hat and scarf as well.
“I’m so glad you stopped in today. That you found your brown pens. I personally love brown ink. It’s unique, you know, when you’re writing letters. Or whatever. I guess not too many people write letters anymore.” The silver-haired woman peers at me over her glasses and shrugs her shoulders.
“You’re right,” I say. “I don’t think too many people do. I wish they did.”
“Yes, me too. It’s so comforting to see someone’s handwriting. Makes you remember. So intimate.”
I nod. “Yes. Reminiscent. Like your store.”
“I’m happy someone bought this pink ensemble,” the woman says as she wraps the items in white tissue. “The pink will complement your lovely eyes.”
I hear a bell jangle as I exit the store. The sky seems to be breathing colors, layers of orchid and blue, laced with silvered light. Tree branches frame patches of persimmon and gold. I am embraced, sheltered by something I can’t articulate. Like the dreams. Something trying to get through to me.
Priscilla K. Garatti is the author of On A Clear Blue Day, winner of an Enduring Light medal in the 2017 Illumination Book Awards. Find her other books, Missing God, An Ocean Away, and her latest work, The Light By Which We See, at priscillakgaratti.com.