Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Lockets

Jake was uncomfortable with emotions, his and others. Yet when he slid his thumbnail into the clasp and popped open the first locket, he fought back a lump in his throat. She was so beautiful, and they were a handsome couple. He eased open the locket and let it lay at the tips of his open hand as he filtered each memory that sprang from it. The memories were good in the early years, and gradually deteriorated to nothing, then less than nothing, then to contempt. He shook back into consciousness, and gently closed the locket, his thumb set firmly atop the engraved initials.

Strung on the same chain was the other locket. Jake tugged at his ear as he tried to recall where this one came from. He popped it open. It was empty. A quick glance on the outsides of the charm confirmed there were no engravings.

He tugged harder at his ear. He set the necklace down, leaned back in his seat and looked to the ceiling. She’d always worn it, he thought, and sent his thoughts back through time to when they first met. She wore a white knit sweater over her sun-lit, olive tanned body. He stayed in the memory looking hard to see into whether, or when, she wore the locket.

"Are you okay, Dad?” asked Mary Clare. Jake looked up and half smiled. “Oh I’m alright,” he replied, wiping his eyes. “Just sorting your mother’s jewelry for you girls.” “Are you okay, though?” she asked again. Jake stood up, put his arms around his older daughter and hugged her. He hadn’t hugged her in years. Mary Clare tensed. Dad hadn’t hugged her in years and this was weird. “Yeah, yeah. I’m okay, Snooks. You and your sister need to come by and go through this stuff.” “Okee Dokee,” Mary Clare responded, in a voice so like her dad’s.

Jake closed the lid to the jewelry box. He would not open it again. What is in there is for her daughters. What is in there is the magic their mother carried through their lives. What strength and kindness and compassion she carried is stored in those stones and metals. Perhaps what emptiness she carried is stored in that other locket, the one he’s sure she always wore.

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