The house was filled with stuffy hot air and bad history, ready to explode, as Chase staggered down the hallway of his grandparents’ home, an aimless endeavor he had endured the past several months since Seinna had taken his children and gone to parts unknown. He sat on the unmade bed, the one his father had slept in while growing up on in a neighborhood of tangled streets named after the Big Lakes. He tried to recall the point of today. It’s meaning. The tall pines hovering high, swaying in the summer breeze near the bedroom window, and the dark blue walls filled his head with a sense of claustrophobia, as if he were drowning or locked away in a closet that was tailor-made for abusing those who were without defense.
Chase rolled his class ring between his dirty fingertips while it spoke to him in an ancient dialect. A language of youth and innocence. Talk of opportunity and simple choices. Visions of high school passed through his mind. “Mad Dog!” his high school classmates had chanted after he had pinned an opponent with undisciplined aggression. Sienna had always stood on the sidelines, quiet, tolerant of the risks of wrestling and weary of the violent nature possessed by her unborn child’s father. Neither one of them dreamt that his family’s dysfunctional history would slowly, over time, invade their world.
Chase wanted to ask his grandmother again where the ring came from. But he realized her mind was filled with distrust for all things of this world and her heart empty of compassion, while her zest for living hung by a shoestring. She had been a victim traveling down the hard road longer than anyone. “Some guy,” she had answered, stiff and stern. It made no difference where the ring came from, he now realized. It had returned to him thirteen years since its disappearance. There had to be a reason for its finding its way back to him today, he dreamed. That is, he thought, if reasoning and dreaming could fill the same void.
Chase had finally left his mark, just like his father and his father before him. It was the sort of mark that left both physical and mental bruises on others while, afterwards, always leaving him questioning his judgment. We were so young, he thought, now thinking more about the past and who he had become, thinking more so now about such things than any other time in his adult life. Jobs came and went. Arguments with anyone and everyone were lost and re-lost. Troubles stirred his and Sienna’s world for so long, he now wondered how he had not noticed the subtle shifting in the balance of his life, as it slowly fractured, forming into either a piece of lost-opportunity or a fragment of callous-disregard, until finally she had told him, “This is the last time.”
The ring, heavy in Chase’s palm, must stand for something, he judged.
Regret. Reflection. Remorse. Redemption. Redo.
Resolve began to fade.
Chase set the tarnished ring on the nightstand and lay down on a bed that knew plenty of nightmares. His thoughts drifted toward childhood and children, angst and slumber. And then he started to doze off. An old lost ring could only do so much.