While cleaning out a jewellery box today, I came across a flat jade heart from my childhood. It’s Asiatic, about an inch wide, and doesn’t fit with anything else here. I’ve never worn it, though it has a hole for a slim chain. It’s from Grade three.
It was lying dusty in the gravel of the school field at recess and I felt clever for having found it, such a small thing in that wide place. I held it in my pocket all morning, an odd treasure, I didn’t even like it, and wondered where it came from. I don’t remember the girl who accused me of stealing it, only that she had black hair.
When she claimed it was from her father, I immediately decided she had to have it back. Fathers were large chaotic things to me then, disastrous and violent, to be wary of, not to be ignored. People at school didn’t know what my home life was like, they only saw a very small, awkward girl who read too much and never knew what was cool, (you try talking about Boney M or the Talking Heads to New Kids on the Block worshippers). She didn’t understand my sudden distress. She took it for denial and began to hurl insults at me, accusing me of stealing it from envy. Her words were like bile. I’d never been falsely charged with fault before. She reversed my decision immediately, which is why I still have it, though I don’t care for it and never have.
Into the Free Box little thing. Into the Free Box and away.