(Continued from November 26th, 2011.)
“Make a wish,” he said. “If you wish for something good — it WILL come true.”
I held the ring he gave me in the middle of my palm, and I stared at the open space caught in the center of its beaded circle. It was made out of a tightly wound spiral of a single metallic line, as thin as a single hair on a horse’s mane. I thought of my grandmother’s cuckoo clock whose pendulum she had stopped winding-up, suddenly one night.
Her husband, a retired fisherman, had gained himself a habit in his old age: He’d climb up to the roof above their attic to watch the sunset every night. There, he would witness the reunion of two unlikely lovers: The sun would give up the ambition of its skies and melt into the waters of the Ocean beneath; and every such reunion would illuminate the old man’s eyes with colors of every precious stone in the world.
There, up on the rooftop, my grandmother would find him, when she returned home from work.
“My little darling boy!” she’d gosh. “You’re too old for this game.”
She was eleven years his junior; but after a lifetime of waiting for the Ocean to return her lover, she hadn’t managed to forget her worries. And even with his now aged body radiating heat in their mutual bed each night, she would dream up the nightmares of his untimely deaths.
“I’ve died so many times in your sleep, my baby lark,” he joked in the mornings, “I should be invincible by now.”
Still, the woman’s worrisome wrath turned her into a wild creature he preferred to never witness: They were unlikely lovers, after all. So, he’d smirk upon her scolding, obey and lithely descend. Then, he would chase my grandmother into the corner bedroom of their modest hut. And she would laugh. Oh, how she would laugh!
One day, after she scolded him again, he slipped; and as she watched each grasp betray him, she suddenly expected that her lover could unfold his hidden wings and slowly swing downward, in a pattern of her cuckoo clock’s pendulum, or a child’s swing. But he was an injured bird: That’s why he could no longer go out to sea.
Upon the permanently wet ground, he crashed. And on that night, she stopped winding-up the spiral inner workings of her clock.
“Well? Did you make a wish?” the old Indian merchant asked me after I slipped his gift onto the ring finger of my left hand.
The beads rolled on the axis of the spiral and slid onto my finger like a perfect fit. On its front, four silver colored beads made up a pattern of a four-petalled flower, or possibly a cross. I bent the fingers of my hand to feel its form against my skin. Under the light, the beads immediately shimmered.
“Well? Did you?” the old, tiny man persisted.
Instead of answering him, I pressed the now ringed hand against my heart and nodded.
“See. It is already coming true,” he said.
He was by now sitting in a lotus position on top of a lavender cloud. It had earlier slipped out from behind the room with bamboo curtains, in the doorway, and it snuggled against his leg like a canine creature. Before I knew it, the old man got a hold of the scruff of the cloud’s neck, and he reached down below — to help me up.
His hand was missing a ring finger. How had I not noticed that before? I studied his face for remnants of that story. But it was not its time yet, so I got lost in between the wrinkles of his brown skin and followed them up to his eyes:
His eyes were two small suns, with amber colored rays. The center of each iris was just a tiny purple dot, too narrow to fit in my reflection. I looked for it though until the suns began to spin — each ray being a spoke on a wheel — faster and faster.
The spirals of the old man’s watch began unwinding, and we floated up through the layered clouds of time, up to the sunroof. With a single gesture of his arm, the man unlatched the windowed frames. He sat back down, shifted until his sit bones found their former markings in the lavender cloud; and when he turned to face me, I realized he had become a young lover of my own: with jet black hair and a pair of smirking lips of that old fisherman who had stopped the spiral of the clock inside my grandma’s hut.
“I had a feeling about you,” he said and buried his four-fingered hand inside my loosened hair. “You are the type to always wish — for good.”