I broke my long, jangling necklace again. At least
two of the tiny bronze bells rolled under the radiator, lost
forever. I should scold myself
for neglecting to remove it while cleaning, but I like
the sound it makes when I move. Especially
on a warm spring day like today, I crave something cold
and familiar against my skin. I don’t expect you to remember
any of my jewelry, but you know this necklace: I wore it
the night we met at the Stateline Diner, our halfway point.
You arrived in your new car, which you had wanted
to show off. I felt pretty. My necklace chimed
when I hugged you. The diner was crowded, and I wondered
if we had made a poor decision, agreeing to meet
at such a noisy place. The only things I wanted
to say were proclamations better communicated
in hushed tones, not shouts.
The waitress brought us water in tall, sweaty glasses
painted with pictures of football helmets. Thank God
I could impress you by pointing to your favorite
team, represented by a green helmet with white writing.
Until then, I would finger my
necklace and tell you how wearing it made me
proud because I had purchased it while alone. I wanted to prove
I don’t need you. But after a while I started to
tug on the necklace. I didn’t know what to do with my hands.
“Want to see my new car?” you asked, after eating.
“I guess I can stay a few minutes,” I said.
I sat in the front passenger seat, and you demonstrated
cruise control. I admired your efforts to
become a man.
“I should go.”
I moved to open the door and heard
my necklace assert itself. We were young.
We could still jump over the emergency
brake to the back seat. You could still push me
down on the cloth, not leather, cushion.
The back of my head could bump, bump, bump
the door release, and the door
would remain shut because you had,
for unknown reasons, chosen the useless-to-you
child safety lock. I didn’t feel pain
until you put your hand behind my head to soften
the impact. I didn’t even realize my necklace was broken
until you collapsed on top of me, brushing one end
of the chain off the edge of the car seat like a crumb,
like something we had left behind so help could find us.
I gathered the metal in one hand. I thought only
about how I could fix it.