Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Kim Mallin
Sitting dockside on the waterfront one evening in Beaufort, NC watching the sunset. A local musician was playing Jimmy Buffet tunes while my boyfriend and I continued our never-ending argument. I sat, twisting my grandmother's onyx ring round and round my finger, wondering what was going to come of us. Distracted by my emotions and Jimmy Buffet's lyrics, not paying attention to what I was doing, I twisted a bit too much and off my ring went—right between the wooden slats of the deck.
My grandmother had always been one of my best friends. She knew all my secrets…and loved me anyway. She knew how much I admired her onyx ring and when I graduated from high school, she gave me one very similar to hers. I knew that it had been somewhat of a financial sacrifice for her, which only deepened the sentimental value of the ring. I don't think I had ever taken it off…until that night.
We used a flashlight to search among the slats but were not able to find it in the dark. We returned the next morning to look again. The owner helped us loosen up some of the boards around where we had been sitting, and we searched for anything shiny, anything resembling a ring, but had no luck. It seemed like a "sign" to me…stay in this relationship and you'll keep losing parts of yourself. Eventually we gave up looking. And eventually I gave up on the relationship.
Two years later I was visiting Beaufort again, this time with some close girlfriends. I found myself sitting out on the same deck…listening to the same guy playing the same songs. I began to tell my friends about that night, remembering how lost I had felt in that relationship, how much I had hated losing that ring and how it had seemed symbolic at the time. Sitting on that deck, I realized how much my life had changed since that night two years ago. I was graduating from medical school in a few months, had been accepted into the surgical residency I wanted…I felt as if my life was finally coming together. As if I were beginning to find myself. As I glanced down, I saw the sunlight reflecting off of something from between the slats of the deck. Leaning over, I saw something shiny lying in the sand a few inches below the deck. Using two straws like a pair of chopsticks, I patiently and carefully lifted my grandmother's onyx ring up out of the sand.
I could not believe it had been that easy. And yet, it really hadn't been. After all, it had taken two years. Maybe finding that ring was yet another "sign." An indication that maybe I had not and could not ever really lose me. That I, like the ring, had been there to be found all along
Kim Mallin lives in Isle of Palms, SC. Reach her at Kjog98@hotmail.com.
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