My mother had a ring in the shape of a lion’s head. She used it to do small magics – find parking spaces, make the queue she was in at the supermarket move a bit faster, make the squabbling couple at the next table stop squabbling and fall in love again, that sort of thing. She left it to me when she died.
The first time I lost it I was in a cafe. I think I had been fiddling with it nervously, pulling it off my finger, putting it on again. Only when I got home did I realise that I was no longer wearing it.
I returned to the cafe, but there was no sign of it.
Several days later, it was returned to me by a taxi driver, who had found it on the pavement outside the cafe. He told me my mother had appeared to him in a dream and given him my address and her recipe for old-fashioned cheesecake.
The second time I lost the ring I was leaning over a bridge, idly tossing pinecones into the river below. I didn’t think it was loose, but the ring left my hand with a pinecone. I watched its arc as it fell. It landed in the wet dark mud at the edge of the river with a loud pollup noise, and was gone.
A week later, I bought a salmon from a man I met in the pub: I collected it from a cooler in the back of his ancient green van. It was for a birthday dinner. When I cut the salmon open, my mother’s lion ring tumbled out.
The third time I lost it, I was reading and sunbathing in the back garden. It was August. The ring was on the towel beside me, along with my dark glasses and some suntan lotion, when a large bird (I suspect it was a magpie or a jackdaw, but I may be wrong. It was definitely a corvid of some kind) flapped down, and flapped away with my mother’s ring in its beak.
The ring was returned the following night by a scarecrow, awkwardly animated, who gave me quite a start as he stood there, unmoving under the back door light, and then lurched off into the darkness once again as soon as I had taken the ring from his straw-stuffed glove hand.
“Some things aren’t meant to be kept,” I told myself.
The next morning, I put the ring into the glove compartment of my old car. I drove the car to a wrecker, and I watched, satisfied, as the car was crushed into a cube of metal the size of an old television set, and then put in a container to be shipped to Romania, where it would be processed into useful things.
In early September I cleared out my bank account. I moved to Brazil, where I took a job as a web designer under an assumed name.
So far there’s been no sign of mother’s ring. But sometimes I wake from a deep sleep with my heart pounding, soaked in sweat, worrying how she’s going to give it back to me next time.
Inspiration for the September Tale
“Tell me something you lost in September that meant a lot to you.”
“My mother’s lion ring, lost & found 3 times over…Some things aren’t meant to be kept.”