Daisy, the ringbearer
I can picture her perfectly now sitting in my front yard, V-legged in the grass, eating clementines out of a wooden box filled with ripe fruit she picked up just outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
It’s the middle of February, the warmest day on record – 65 degrees and sunny, gentle breezes rolling in like the tide out of the northwest. She’s in a pair of cut-off shorts, her legs covered in tiny scabs and bruises, the aftermath of an evening that ended badly, falling from an elevated set of train tracks into a briar patch.
Her fingers, covered in sticky fruit juices, glisten beneath the sun. This is when I notice her obsidian ring for the first time. I follow her fingers closely as she reaches into the wooden box and pulls out a swollen mango. She carves it up neatly; using an old bowie knife with a handle made of polished elk bone, she throws the skin and the husk behind her head.
She extends her hand toward me and bears a chip-toothed grin. She asks if I’d like to try some. In my hand the mango reminds me of strips of gooey flesh. In my mouth it tastes like Eden.
“If God had a cunt,” she says, “It would be a mango.” I suddenly feel like I have a morphine drip hooked up to my arm and my entire body shakes a little.
I remember that later on I drove her home to her father’s place, where she was staying. She showed me the tree house in her backyard and we made out there for a little while. We spent the rest of the evening under the stars in her father’s hot tub, tracking satellites orbiting the earth and trying our best to trace the winter constellations with our fingers, outstretched and insignificant against the nighttime sky. I noticed again her ring. In its black surface glowed the reflection of the stars.
“Your ring’s an arrant thief, and steals its pale fire from the stars,” I told her.
“You’re an arrant thief, and I hope you try to steal a kiss,” she said.
In the morning she gave me the ring. It fit perfectly on my thumb and I wore it for several years, hardly ever taking it off. The two of us slowly fell out of touch, as has been the case with so many people in my life. Not too long ago I stopped asking about her when I’d come back through town.
Still, every now and then I thought I had seen her somewhere. There was the one time at a bar in the Salt Lake City airport. Another time I was eating ribs at a BBQ joint in Memphis. The last time was in London, just outside of St. Paul’s cathedral. She was seated on a park bench, scribbling feverishly into a leather notebook, smoking a hand rolled cigarette. When she looked up from her work I realized it was someone else entirely.
Last summer I lost the ring at Coney Island. I had taken it off to show a girl who was sitting on my lap, helping me finish one of those jumbo margaritas that come with a crazy a straw in a tall glass and never has enough booze in it. As the girl handed back the ring to me it slipped through my drunken fingers, rolled off the table, and fell between the cracks in the boardwalk.
I was in a pawnshop not too long ago hocking a few things because I was in another pinch and I really needed the money. In the glass case by the cash register I spotted an obsidian ring. Attached to ring was a small tag with the following written on it:
Obsidian helps to protect the very sensitive against depression. It is the stone of the soft hearted and gentle people of the world. Use obsidian to help block negativity of any kind. As a black gemstone, it symbolizes self control and resilience.
I probably should have used some of the money to buy that ring, but I opted for a trip to the liquor store instead. Self control was never my strong suit
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