He is hot to the touch when we shake hands, and it obviously isn’t because of the cup of tea steaming on his desk. He strides over to a small shelf and pulls a notebook from the tiny pile and throws it on the desk. Then he goes to the window and with his finger, pushes one of the panels open. He pauses there, staring into the distance. I can clearly imagine what he sees from up here.
“Quarter V, is it?” he says. His voice isn’t lost to the wind, it comes out strong and clear, just like his makers had intended.
“Yes,” I reply, wondering if he also found the spiral way our town was built, fascinating. Different from the boxed towns nearby, Kinnazi’s buildings alternated in height, stacked up against each other like dominoes, the tallest of the buildings being, Quarter V, and in the eye. It said something about Kinnazi town keeping an eye on its most financially challenged.
“When did you relocate?”
“Quarter II…my mum had just passed away.” He studies me from where he stands by the window and perhaps, seeing no emotion he can react to, he takes his seat and stares at my records on his screen.
“What was the reason behind the distress in her accounts?”
His direction of inquiry pleases me. Many would have inquired about her death as social conventions proclaimed, hoping to comfort with empathy–pity, but to a financial manager such as he, my welfare in terms of finances was what concerned him more. Finances are also what had brought me to him.
“Her invention lost value.”
He searches my records more and perks up at something. I had almost forgotten that he isn’t human.
“Wait, are you Kaizire’s son?!” I nod, and that is when I see the pity, but it is not for myself. “Huh, so unfortunate that it turned out faulty.”
“We advise that it is too soon to spend what was left for you.”
“I have an allowance for five shillings remaining for this month.”
“Huh, let’s see here…hmm. Let’s start from the basics; choosing a house in Quarter V was definitely smart, even though an 80000 shillings’ Quarter IV house would have worked just fine, and your option has left you with at most 5000 shillings to spend monthly for three years…” He frowns as he scribbles. These open emotions warm me.
“I have a job lined up in two months’ time…I’m done with school.”
“How much will it give?”
“3000 shillings’ salary.”
“Hmm…I hope you are upgraded to an 8000 shilling’ job sooner.”
“Yes, I have more classes to that effect next year.”
“Everything seems to be in order…” He says as he flips over a page in his notebook. I study him then, and wonder if he has noticed the childish scribbles he just put down. “Why are you here again?”
“My purchase was rejected,” I reply.
“You have five shillings left for this month, yes, but you could have an emergency in the next…three hours.”
“I know that.”
“Hmm, I see here that you last had a meal five hours ago…and the fare home will cost you two shillings. You will have only…”
“—one shilling and three cents left, I know.”
“More than enough to pay for access to the public restroom…I can see you shifting constantly in your seat.”
“That isn’t the emergency.”
“What was it again?”
It is three hours to the end of the month, three hours to the moment he will completely shut down. His dying hand tells of his loses in body functions. All he will be is another metal husk of failed experimentations. I want him to be able to smell flowers before he completely shuts down. Even if my mother’s innovation to increase their shelf life was faulty, it allowed these phantoms the ability to smell in their last hour before they completely shut down.