Frozen Lotus

Emotions are fickle things.

One day, you’re quite content to be done with someone; the next, you’re standing ankle-deep in snow, watching the frigid waters swirl by the bridge supports.

I held the little gem, gift-wrapped in a silver foil with gold ribbon. It was a silver blooming lotus, with a blue sapphire partway up the chain it dangled from. It wasn’t expensive. In fact, I had some amount of trouble figuring out how someone could handcraft such a trinket and make a profit at only $35 after shipping. But then, I was trying to think of anything but the reason I was there.

A week before, I was busily trying to decide how best to present it to the intended recipient. It would win her back, I told myself. I would give it to her, prostrate myself on the concrete, and beg her to forgive my arrogant foolishness. The breakup was a serious lapse in judgment, like buying an overpriced car. It would never happen again. I’d learn to deal with all of it; the Veganism, the constant need for emotional reassurance, the frequent abandonment for the company of others… I was certain my flaws far exceeded her own, and that it was a pathetic fear that drove me away. A brief instant of insanity.

However, it wasn’t even a day later when the words of her best friend echoed in my mind.

“You’re being such a jerk. Do you even know what you’re doing to her?”

I stared at the little box. I had only opened it once, to verify the integrity of the piece. It was simple, elegant, and beautiful. I could not find a more perfect match. But… I was… not worthy? I had lost my chance, perhaps? I couldn’t put my finger on it. All I knew, was that giving her that necklace would be a horrible mistake. Wounds would open and deepen. She would surely hate me for it. I could not bear to hurt her again. However, I had poured so much of myself into its purchase and preparation, it was little less than an icon of my longing for her. Even seeing it sitting on my desk caused all of the hope I had built to be washed away with guilt, embarrassment, and pain.

And yet, there it stayed. I didn’t know what to do with it. For nearly a week, I would go to class and work, glancing at it as I passed. It never moved, except when I’d fidget idly with it. I knew I had to get rid of it, but how? I couldn’t give it to one of my many female relatives. I would be haunted by its presence until they lost it. Selling it felt wrong somehow; like I was selling a bit of my soul at a discount rate. And then, the river came to mind. I would let the river take it, and let nature decide.

It was a cold day in December, and the snow was in thick patches. It was mostly cleared off the walkways, but it didn’t appear anyone had made it to the bridge. I stood there, watching the water race along. I dug the small box out of my pocket, and stared at it. I knew what dropping it in would mean, and it hurt. It hurt so badly, I couldn’t convince my fingers that it was for the best. After two agonizing hours, I decided I would give it to some random girl. It didn’t matter who. “Merry Christmas,” I’d say. “I promise I’m not stalking you.” There’s no way that plan would fail.

The small jewelry box jabbed into my side, and I swore it weighed thirty pounds. I went to the library and purchased some cocoa, seeing as my hands had gone numb. As I walked, I couldn’t quite get the wording right. No matter how I ran it through my head, I would come out as a far bigger creep than I intended. It wouldn’t work. So, I returned to the bridge, to finish what I’d started.

To my surprise, some people fish when it is below freezing. Even more surprising, is that there are fish to be caught. A woman and man, presumably of some form of relation, were packing up and getting ready to go. I hadn’t really noticed them before, but the woman noticed me.

“Are you gonna throw that in?” she asked.

I shrugged. “Dunno.”

“If she’s worth it, she’ll come back. Just hang onto it,” she said with a forced smile, then walked on. The comment earned a cynical grin and a mumbled reply.

After three more hours of pacing and indecision, I opened the box, and took the gem out. It dangled in front of me, catching light from some unknown source. With an inversion, everything seemed washed out and gloomy. Fitting, I thought. It really was a beautiful piece of work; and she was, too. I stuffed the box back in my pocket, and played with the chain and pendant. She was the pendant, I thought. The crafter had somehow taken my raw emotion and all of her splendors, and combined them to form the piece now dangling over the railing.

I gripped it tightly. How could I not? If it slid from my fingers, so would she. But then… she was already gone, wasn’t she? I was just left holding my heart, attached to a 13″ chain.

“I hate myself enough for both of us, OK? Go be happy. Let me be the miserable one,” I said quietly. And with that, I watched the pendant glitter once more, before slipping into the current.

I flexed my fingers. I was as numb on the inside as I was on the outside. I walked off the bridge, and along the path next to the river. I had done it, hadn’t I? I’d finally given her up. I’d get better eventually, right? My eyes kept trailing back to where the necklace might have ended up.