Lola Myrna is a soft-spoken 70-year-old woman who lives with her toddler grandson, Jimboy. She has ash-gray hair, and she keeps mostly to herself.
Lola is well-known in their neighborhood for adoring only two things in this world: her garden and her only grandson.
Her garden is simple but well-kept. It complements the two-bedroom bungalow that sits on it, like a pretty porcelain figurine on a birthday cake. Adjacent to it are two Guava trees and a Calamansi tree which provide shade against the afternoon sunlight when Lola is having a siesta.
Lola used to give her grandson a bath with leaves from the Calamansi tree whenever he had fever. She plucked several leaves and mixed them with the hot bath water. It smelled really good, and she believed it made him feel better.
Beside the Calamansi tree, there are also rows of Santan shrubs on garden, and its red and yellow flowers were in contrast to the greenery.
Like most quiet summer afternoons, today Lola is enjoying her siesta under the shade of the Guava trees while Jimboy is idly playing around near her. She rests on a Rattan rocking chair that creaks every now and then, and beside her sits a glass of Calamansi juice that sweats furiously.
From his spot, Jimboy can hear the television inside the sala humming faintly. He hums to the song playing on the TV which was his Lola’s favorite, “Young and Beautiful” by Lana del Rey, but gets distracted by the small pebbles near the Santan shrub. He inspects each stone he finds, feeling their smooth and rough surfaces with his stubby little fingers.
He was enjoying collecting them in his hands, when he hears a faint rustling sound behind the Santan’s leaves. He peers at it and what he sees made him gasp—it’s a butterfly struggling to break out of its cocoon. One of its wings is stuck.
Jimboy looks at the butterfly wide-eyed, admiring its bright, orange wings which resemble the summer sunsets—but purses his lips and tips his head to the side.
He drops the stones and quickly jogs back to her Lola who is peacefully snoozing on her rocking chair. He nudges her shoulders.
Lola budges and squints her eyes to Jimboy, seemingly asking him why he disturbed her. He responded by pointing to the shrubs and willfully pulling her hand towards them. With her nostrils flared, she grudgingly stands up and stretches her back.
“Alright, alright. I’m coming,” she obliges.
Jimboy kneels on the dirt and points to the insect. “Lola, what is that, and why is it moving that way?”
Lola Myrna yawns and peers at the shrub. She smiles and pats Jimboy on the head with her gnarled hand.
“It’s called a paru-paro, apo. It used to be an ordinary worm before, but transformed into a beautiful insect after a long and deep slumber,” she tells him.
Jimboy, in awe, reached to touch the paru-paro but it wiggled from its cocoon and fluttered away from him, quickly disappearing into the leaves of the Guava trees.
He fixes his gaze on the leaves, wondering if it will reappear. He faces Lola and asked her where it was going. Lola fell silent for a while and wiped a bead of sweat on her brow.
Without looking at him, she answers, “It is off to find a more beautiful garden.”
Sunset came eventually, and the sky bruised from orange to purple, and then to dark blue. Inside their kitchen, Lola puts on a newly-washed plate on the counter and pats her weak hands dry with a small towel.
She was about to check Jimboy when she notices the set of old pictures on the fridge pinned by shiny fruit magnets. One of them was a family picture of her daughter and her son-in-law, and her grandson, who looks plump and genuinely happy in the photo.
She closes in to the pictures to touch them. Upon seeing the written date on the photograph which was 2055, tears quickly well up in her eyes, which she hesitantly wipes.
Lola suddenly remembers that it’s already past Jimboy’s bed time. She finds him asleep on the sala, with Lego bricks and opened story books scattered around him like little islands.
Lola grunts as she picks up Jimboy in her arms to transfer him to his bedroom. His quiet, deep breaths tickles her forearms.
As she lays him gently on his Spongebob-themed bed, she makes a mental note that he is a fragile boy—her fragile boy. Lola lifts his shirt up to his neck and slowly feels the skin on his back until the cold metal stings her tired hand.
She gets the 2-meter USB charge cable from his bedside table and connects it to the port on the lower left part of his back, just below his ribs.
Finally, as she plugs the cable to the wall adapter, a beep chirps and a small circular green light flickers repeatedly on Jimboy’s forehead. She sighs deeply, feeling an overwhelming sense of peace on her chest.
She realizes that three weeks from now, it will be the ninth death anniversary of her daughter, her son-in-law, and her only grandson, Jimboy who all died in a car accident.
A knot seems to tighten inside her every time the date approaches, but this time, she’s feeling like she already got by.
There were countless times when she cursed technology. However, since having Jimboy’s image, attitude, and personality programmed on a Host—an artificially intelligent companion sold by a Spyra, a giant in the tech industry, she decides that technology isn’t so bad after all.
She is even grateful. It helped her, she thought. It was better than having no one at all.
“Sweet dreams, apo,” Lola closed the door with a gentle thud.
The alarm clock and the rooster are already starting to sing a chorus, which means it’s already morning. Jimboy feels instantly energized as he was awaken by the noise and the sunlight from the window kissing his face.
He almost leaps out of bed when he remembers he’s still plugged to the wall adapter.
Lola’s words came to his mind when she first unboxed him months ago.
“You need to be plugged to this wall for you to keep your energy because you are not a real boy,” she said.
He remembers scanning the new surroundings, which became his home now.
“…And you may never replace him, but I will love you just the way you are,” she assured him, managing to crack a smile.
He may not know why he did it, but he remembers standing up and hugging Lola after hearing the word Love.
Lola then replied, “Please, call me Lola from now on. And I will name you after him. I will call you Jimboy.” He recalled touching Lola’s wet cheeks. He liked touching things.
Jimboy shook off the memory and unplugs the cable from his back. He skips his way to Lola’s bedroom to wake her up.
The door was ajar, but he still knocks—as what Lola taught her about manners.
Jimboy tiptoes on the cold tiled floor and climbs up to her bed. He sits beside her and he nudges her shoulders.
He whispers, “Lola, wake up.”
Lola didn’t budge, so he shakes her a little harder this time.
“Lola, I said wake up,” he says.
Lola is still asleep, her lips curving in a tight, light smile.
Jimboy decides to check her back for a port, thinking she must needs to be plugged to an adapter. But to his surprise, there is no port on her back, only cold and saggy skin.
Jimboy is really becoming confused, but then he remembers what Lola said yesterday about the paru-paro.
He lies beside Lola, and asks her, “Lola, are you going to grow beautiful wings too?”
Lola didn’t reply. Jimboy decides that he, too, will sleep beside Lola and wake up later to go find a beautiful garden.