Here's the first seed, and the stories that resulted in the COBbies thread:
: (The Seed idea)
So, I found a story and a mystery lurking this afternoon. I don't know what to do with it, so I'm offering it to anyone who cares to take a stab at Thingifying it.
I was going through a box of broken jewelry — stuff I'd bought over the years at flea markets and garage sales and thrift stores to use as bits and pieces-parts. Some of it wasn't broken, it was simply stuff someone else hadn't wanted, for whatever reason. And one thing was a charm-keeper — a loop-like pendant that you can hang charms or smaller pendants, or really, pretty much anything, on. This one had a bunch of very thin, cheap-looking finger rings on it, among the other things. One of them caught my eye — it was a bit heavier than the others, and was set with a row of 5 tiny, very glittering, what-I-assumed-were-good-quality rhinestones or CZs.
But then something glittering on the inside caught my eye, and I took it off the keeper and took a closer look.
It's engraved on the inside of the band. This isn't a dimestore ring.
It says "R.W. to M.O. 11-30-46". Then the initials "JAC" are stamped in it. Then "14K."
Who was RW? Who was MO? Whoever she was (I'm assuming "she" because it's a very delicate, feminine thing) she had very slim hands — I'd guess the size at perhaps a 5 — it just barely goes past the second knuckle of my little finger or the first knuckle of my middle finger. Was it a promise ring? an engagement ring? a wedding band? an anniversary gift? How did it wind up abandoned in a bag of costume jewelry?
It's a Thing.
Tis a Thing indeed.
Perhaps it was given by a human to a fairy - from the size - love has done stranger things. Perhaps they were outcast by both humanity and fairykind alike for such an alliance, and fled to live in the hills and bring forth changeling children. And in time, the mother's ring becomes an heirloom, until the memory of her and her lover fades, and it is sold by mercenary descendants.
Perhaps it was given to an ailing child, as a gift by one who would have been betrothed to her otherwise. Kept with her through her illness as plaything and assurance of lovedness, and laid aside on her death, to lie forgotten for many years, and eventually be sold for scrap.
The ring was bought with the last shrivels of his grocery clerk paycheck.
He thought it was forever love.
They were both 17.
She told him it was forever.
She told him she'd talk to her parents.
Talk them around, she said, twirling her honey gold hair with her left ring finger.
She told him she got the scholarship. Told him with a sadness in her voice that did not reach her eyes.
The ring lay heavy in his pocket. He curled his sweaty palm around it on the cold walk home.
Oh yeah, and those three numbers? 11-30-46? Not a date. Locker combo.
Tuefel Hunden IV
The date for the wedding is set. Stamped onto the engagement ring so they can't forget. Two years of working to save up for the big day and the life that will follow. The wedding never comes. He gets orders to ship out to Britain. He sends letters saying he is going to help fight the Nazis but can't say more. June 8th 1944 she is eating dinner with his family awaiting news. His unit hit the shores early and no more letters have reached home. A knock on the door and the towns sheriff is standing on the porch hat under his arm and his head hung low as he hands over a telegram.
My stab at the Story of the Mystery Ring:
It's a message. The ring was to remain in a specialty jewelry shop, unclaimed and unsellable due to its tiny size, until M.O. arrived and bought it to learn the coordinates of a rendezvous point from R.W.
- [11, 30] gives a spot near Kadugli in Sudan.
- [30, 46] gives a area offroad in Iraq's desert.
- If one assume the dashes are negatives, both coordinates land in the South Atlantic ocean, but [-30, -46] is quite close to the shore of Rio Grande.
JAC probably stands for "Just Act Calm" or "Journey After Catastrophe".
After learning the rendezvous point, M.O. fenced it to throw unwanted searchers off his or her trail.
The ring, a bespoke piece, was quite charming if Anneston did say so himself. A young man named Ethan Williams had ordered it.
Five diamonds were aligned on a golden band, at 0.015k each. On the inner circumference Mr. Williams had requested another set of initials to be engraved. Then, a date for November of nearly fifty years ago, along with a triad of thoroughly incomprehensible capital letters ("If you would be so kind as to squeeze it in, I think my parents would both appreciate it greatly").
Quite an unremarkable request, were it not for the fact that the ring was so small it would not fit on the average woman's pinky. When asked, Mr. Williams laughed and stated that it was the correct size, thank you very much. He then paid the proper deposit, and left. The last thing Anneston recalled of Mr. Williams was the way his starched powder-blue French cuffs had glinted as he swept out of the shop and the words, "Yes, yes, I put everything on the ring."
The ring, once finished, went unclaimed for six months. The number given by Ethan Williams, with an out of state area code, sent callers to voicemail, until the message changed to an automated message informing the jeweler that the line was disconnected.
The ring, without modifications, was completely unsellable. It remained as a novelty display on the mannequin normally reserved for childrens' bracelets, until a lady appeared, hair falling out of a once-elegant bun and expensively tailored traveling clothes showing signs of having been worn for at least a few hours, though it was six in the morning. Searching the displays, she spotted the ring and asked, "Was Ethan Williams the one who asked for this ring?"
The ring, claimed, was examined thoroughly on the inner circumference. After Ms. Williams apologized for the lack of communication and paid the remainder of the price, she tucked the ring and its box carefully into a black velvet clutch. The staccato of her heels obscured her murmuring about the next plane to Africa, and bemoaning she would require a stopover. Anneston was only too glad to see the ring off and paid very little mind to the harried young woman.
The ring, bagged and labeled "Exhibit M-7", was brought to him tarnished and scratched with one diamond missing, by a pair of police officers. Anneston found himself describing both Ethan Williams and his supposed sister along with the mention of Africa and everything which had been engraved. The police officers left him, muttering amongst themselves, "Sudan, huh? I guess that falls out of our jurisdiction."
At first the ring was a game, a trick, a puzzle of his own - how small and delicate could he make a ring? He sketched it mentally a thousand times before he dared put it to paper. The key was to take the fragility of something that existed only in his mind and place it within reality. The thin lines of his blueprint already existed in space. Now it only needed him to gently bring as few of those ethereal lines into reality as he could manage.
One spends years planning a castle in the sky. He readied the foundations. Then, as always, life gets in the way.
War. Power. Expulsion. For the little people, there was only an unending array of everyday disasters and miseries. New things become precious, while old things are both less and more.
Now the creation of the ring is an act of desperation. He scrapes together bits of scrap gems from his work and gold that he never dreamed he would stoop to use. The size is small because it needs to be - to fit on his daughter's finger unseen. He works feverishly by candlelight when he can, in the attic of a house where his family now lives. Still, the spirit of the artist drives him to do his best work. He hopes its beauty will make it precious beyond something to buy a new life across the ocean.
Inevitably the day comes when the little they have left must be torn apart. They are reduced to mere numbers: he as a concession for having lost the war, she as one of the lucky ones who is allowed to flee. He closes her hands around it (and aren't they fragile and beautiful, just as he once wanted to capture in his creation) and whispers that he will always love her.
She doesn't really remember what the ring means: she was young, there was so much confusion, and the sound of crying - hers and others - outweighed everything else. Someone forced it into her hand, muttered something unintelligible, and left. It might have been her father, a friend or a stranger. She puts it in a box, with the other mementos from the old country. And she forgets.
She wandered through the streets, alone, looking for some human moment to connect to. He'd given her a ring, and he'd brought her so far from home, but he was "busy." So she was left by herself.
Surrounded by people she didn't know, separated by language, she was drifting. She'd had so much purpose, once; now, she could barely get out of bed.
She saw a happy couple on the street; an old man, bent and hobbling; a child chasing after their friend; teens shyly flirting at a café. But she couldn't feel them.
At the park, she made a decision. She walked away, to go home. To find her purpose again.
She left the ring on a bench, a symbol of love - not lost, but faded and tired.
edited 7th Sep '12 10:07:34 AM by Madrugada
...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.