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In the package, a small, dark blue box. She flipped its cover open. A white opal suspended from a delicate golden chain. The expression of a boy man's affection for a girl playing at being an adult. At the edge of lives to come, still preparing for their jump.
Not especially drawn to the gem, she was to the giver, and therefore the gift. Resembling the jewel, he had fire inside seeking to break through fragile barrier. A soft stone, potentially eroded by handling and exposure to the elements. Made by nature and easily taken down by it. Both contained a flame. The stone and the boy man. Needing oxygen and careful touch.
His every move with her was honest. Discreet. Attentive. He was vulnerable and though she never told--tried never to let on, so was she. Because it was his temperament, he knew this. Even if he didn't.
So began their dance. As he heeded his intuition to protect her from things unknown to him, she felt more unworthy of his admiration. She did not know she was an innocent, had no need of secrets. Her heart remained unsullied. He unwittingly became her reminder of all she thought she wasn't. She could not face his lack of guile thinking herself a less than. And she backed away.
Each time she wore her necklace, its dangling stone draped below her youthful neck, a different truth appeared. To him. To her.
Time was brief before the relationship became too painful. So she wandered from his life by resolute avoidance. Didn't say a word, simply went away.
He didn't know what happened. Contained, he refrained from asking and instead just let her go. As is true with boy men, and girls pretending to be women, they thought they were transparent. Imagined defects shone for all to see.
Though her future found her happy, she did not forget what she had done. Her sins of omission, the last of commission. Her lack of courage. More evidence she wasn't good enough. Didn't deserve him anyway. Later, while watching someone evaporate from her grasp, she would remember. Ah. This is what it feels like.
And when the drawer was open, she'd spy the staid blue box among the foreign change, hankies, photos, half pairs of earrings missing mates, and dreams from long ago. Again. A wince. Stirring longing to explain and apologize, and move on. Completely.
Years passed full of life and learning, as they do for the very fortunate. The necklace became a token of the end of childhood, time of confusion. Innocence, as well, though she hadn't always understood. Finally, she forgave herself for not being fully grown while still a girl. To mark the occasion she released herself from the pinprick of the necklace.
Someone had told her the myth. Opal, the bad luck stone except when born to it. Its color turning black, integrity splintering if worn by one untrue.
To October's child she gave it. What the necklace needed. What she needed, too. A little October beauty twirled into her own destiny wearing a fiery treasure, a grown-up gift from auntie. As it once had been, symbol of delight and devotion. Only now, wrapped, inside a story.
She did then what she had not so many years before when she walked into a different life. And didn't wave good-bye. It wasn't too late for closure. To give the story a proper end without humiliation. She said farewell, I'm sorry, and allowed it lifted by the air.
He had authored his book, too. Went on to write his life. She faded to far-flung memory. In a time long before, he'd been a boy man searching for his voice. She, for a short while, shared his path. A youthful love, though that word was never spoken. For they were not too young to realize -- to stay cautious with its use.
Never knowing where they'd alighted, if they landed hard or soft, each treated memory of the other tenderly. As they had tried to do back when. Without a place to acknowledge their common, transitory past, or finally speak their truths, it was all entrusted to the necklace.