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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2016721-The-Medina-Heirloom
by beetle
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Gay/Lesbian · #2016721
Jules finds a ring and a photo on his porch.
Word count: Approx. 3,500
Notes/Warnings: None.
Summary: Written for the prompt(s): On the steps outside of my front door when I opened it this morning was an odd shaped gold antique ring and a photo. I am sure these were not there when I came home last night. . . .



On the steps outside of my front door when I opened it this morning was an odd-shaped gold, antique ring and a photo. I’m sure these weren’t there when I came home last night, or they wouldn’t still be here this morning. At least the ring—old, and obviously valuable—wouldn’t have. Maybe not the photo, either, depending on what it was a photo of.

Mystified, I bent down to retrieve both ring and Polaroid. Both were chilly to the touch. The ring, as I examined it, winked and flashed in the cold, winter dawn-light. Though the band was circular, the design on the ring was abstract, looping and whirling in fine detail, obviously meant to confuse the eye. Here and there, within the design, winked diamonds.

All in all, this ring was, after a mere moment of examination, entirely familiar, and utterly impossible. I remembered staring and staring at it on my mother’s finger as she sat and read the paper or drank coffee or simply talked, her expressive hands dancing as she spoke. She’d even used to let me hold her hand for the express purpose of feeling the always cool, ever solid ring on my palm.

“Your father slipped this ring on my finger the day he proposed, and I haven’t taken it off since,” Mom’d often say wistfully and teary-eyed. “On that day, he made me the happiest woman in the world.”

Turning the ring over in my hand, I noted it was undamaged and untarnished. No sign of any misadventure could be seen on its gleaming surface. Of greater consequence to me, however, was how—twenty years after my mother’s disappearance—it’d appeared on my doorstep. . . .

Swallowing the old feelings of fear, despair, grief, confusion, and anger that threatened to swamp me as they hadn’t in years, I took a deep breath and looked at the Polaroid.

It was a photo of my parents, smiling and holding each other. And they didn’t look as they had a few years after I was born, as they had in one of the only pictures I have of them both. No, in this picture, they looked thirty or so years older. They looked how they might have looked today, had they still been alive.

My mother’s golden hair was touched with frost, her face lined in ways I didn’t recall it being lined. My father—who I had at best fuzzy memories of, and despite pictures, could never really hold his face in my mind—looked much like he did in the pictures I had: light-brown hair, only shot through, in this photo, with iron-grey. And the lines of his face were riven much deeper than in the old photos.

Mom’s eyes, a deep mischievous green, were the same, but for the gravity lurking behind them. My father’s light-brown eyes were as solemn and mysterious as I’d always considered them. Both their gazes were locked on something in the distance, and their smiles were contented, but slightly melancholy.

And, of particular note, was the fact that they appeared to be standing in a forest or park, from what I could make out of the background. Only the leaves on the trees were star-shaped and . . . magenta. Definitely not the reds and burgundies of the average tree in fall, but true magenta.

Shivering, and not just because it was cold and I was still in my sleep-clothes, I turned the Polaroid over. On the back side, in my mother’s tiny, but spidery script, was a brief missive in red ink.

         Dearest Jules,

We never meant to leave you. Never wanted to hurt you. But we had to go to keep you safe. To let you have the childhood and live the life you deserved. We love you. And we’re—at last!—as safe as we always tried to keep you. We’re home.

We’re passing the ring on to you. May you find a love worthy of our family’s most treasured heirloom. Or may that love find you.

All our brightest hopes and deepest love,

Mom and Dad{/indent}

Shuddering, now, I turned over the picture again, to really examine it, but . . . it was blank. An unrelieved black square.

Gasping, I turned it over again and the missive on the back was fading away, like disappearing ink. As I watched, it was going, going . . . gone.

Looking up and down Bly Street, I saw no one and nothing moving. Not even the newspaper delivery guy in his beat-up hatch-back. He was unusually late, this morning.

Who had left these things on my doorstep . . . and why?

Shaking, now, I turned to go back inside. I didn’t realize there were tears on my face till Brian rounded the corner from the kitchen, chewing. He stopped in shock when he saw me standing there, in the middle of the hall, just a few feet beyond the front door.

“Babe?” he asked, brow furrowing. He shuffled toward me, still in his sleep-clothes, too. “Is something wrong? You’re white as a sheet, shivering, and . . . crying.”

I blinked at Brian and tried to tell him I was fine. That nothing was the matter—indeed, how could I even begin to explain what had happened when I didn’t know, myself?

But I closed my mouth quickly, and shook my head. I couldn’t lie to him. I wouldn’t. I never have, not once in the four years we’d been together. And I didn’t intend to start. So I just stood there, mouth working as I held out the photo in one tremoring hand.

Frowning, now, Brian reached for the photo, his large, warm fingers brushing my smaller, nerveless ones. He looked at it and his eyebrows lifted.

“Oh,” he said, smiling a little. “It’s your folks, right?”

“I—yes,” was all I could say, heart skipping beats as I came to stand beside him so I could see the photo again.

Instead of a blank, black surface, there was once more a picture:

It was my parents on their wedding day, on the top steps of City Hall, holding hands and waving at the camera. Mom was wearing her cream-colored pantsuit and dad was wearing a dark, three-piece suit that made him, with his pale complexion, look kind of like a mortician. But other than that, they looked so young and happy. . . .

Whoa” Brian said, catching me as I listed into his side. All the strength had flowed right out of me, and the hallway went grey and began to spin.

Brian scooped my scrawny body up in his brawny arms as if I weighed nothing, and carried me into the living room, to the couch, placing me gently upon it. The photo went on the coffee table. Then Brian knelt in front of me and brushed my hair off my brow, checking for a fever. His dark eyes stared worriedly into my own.

“Are you okay, baby?”

“I’m—” I closed my eyes on the vertiginous room. “I’m fine.”

Brian snorted. “You almost fainted, Jules. That’s not fine.”

“I just . . . got a little disoriented and dizzy,” I admitted and Brian cupped my face in his hand.

“Yeah, that’s not a usual occurrence for you,” he sighed, caressing my cheek, then taking my hands. He had to pry at the left one, and as he did, he looked up at me. “Have you been drinking enough water?”

I rolled my eyes automatically, and instantly regretted it when the vertigo got slightly worse. “Yes, Mother.”

“Well, you know how sick you get when you’re dehydrated,” Brian tsked, raising my right hand to his lips to kiss my palm. His thumb stroked my left palm and encountered the ring. “What’s this?”

His breath was warm on my palm and I smiled a bit, if lamely. “It’s . . . it’s the engagement ring my father gave my mother.” Brian blinked up at me, surprised. And why shouldn’t he be? I rarely talked to him about my parents. All he knew of them was that my father had disappeared when I was three and my mother had disappeared when I was eleven. No traces of either parent had ever been found, nor had there been signs that they were planning to do a runner. Bank accounts had been and remained untouched, and there was no sign of foul play or any ransom notes—not that my folks had been anything like wealthy, though they’d been comfortably well-off.

And that was all I’d ever told him. Hell, I hadn’t looked at the photo albums in longer than I’d been with Brian, let alone shown them to him. They were carefully packed away in boxes in the basement of the house, where I didn’t have to see the and never, ever had to think about them. “How did you even know that was a picture of my parents? You’ve never seen them,” fell from my lips as Brian examined the ring curiously. He smiled, but didn’t look away from the design on it.

“Babe, you look just like your father, except for your hair and your eyes. You’ve got your mom’s golden hair and—well, your eyes are hazel, but they’re the same shape as hers.” Now, Brian looked up at me, smiling. “It’s a beautiful ring.”

“Yeah . . . I’ve always admired it,” I agreed, leaning back in the couch. The spinning was easing up, some, but I still felt disoriented and weak. “It’s been in my father’s family for a long time. Generations.”

“Really?”

I nodded, closing my eyes for a few moments. Just to give the spinning some time to get gone. “The Medina men give the ring to their intendeds, and they wear it till the next Medina man comes of age or finds his future bride, and it gets passed on.” I snorted wryly. “My mother was the last to wear it. And I guess I won’t be carrying on the family tradition.”

“Hmm,” Brian murmured, then took my hand again. When I opened my eyes again, the room had stopped spinning and Brian was sliding the Medina ring onto my ring finger. “Well, whaddaya know?” he said, sounding pleased and amused. “It’s a perfect fit.”

My brows drew together in confusion and I held up my hand, looking at the ring and admiring the way it flashed in the light. It looked like it belonged on my finger—my hand looked like my mother’s.

“What—?” I began, dragging my gaze from the ring to Brian’s eyes. His smile grew wider and he caught my hand, pulling it to his face to kiss it again.

“Jules Medina . . . I love you more than anything or anyone in the world. I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone but you, and I want to bind you to me by as many ties as possible. I want to be yours and have you be mine forever. You’re my rising sun, my north star, and my happily ever after,” Brian said solemnly, his eyes intent and intense upon mine. I, for my part, was gaping at him, too surprised to blink. “Will you do me the honor of becoming my husband?”

Now I was blinking, and there were tears once again running down my face. Brian hastily wiped them away and pulled me into a tight embrace, his face pressed to my chest. Still stunned, all I could do was stroke his hair and let more tears roll down my face.

“Marry me, baby?” he breathed against my heart, which was skipping beats again, and leaving me breathless.

“Yes, of course,” I nonetheless replied, laughing a little hysterically. “Of course.”

Brian let go of me to look up into my eyes, his own brimming with happiness—as well as a few tears of his own—and wonder. “For real?”

I smiled and nodded, and Brian jumped up, whooping and fist-pumping the air. Then he was pulling me up off the couch and whirling me around in his arms. My feet left the floor and I clutched at him tight with arms and legs, just in case he lost his grip in his excitement.

“Baby-baby-baby,” he chanted, kissing me hard and uncoordinated. I kissed him back, overwhelmed, but happy, somewhere under my utter shock.

When Brian finally got tired of spinning us around, he scooped me up in his arms again and, kissing me once more, made his way to our bedroom—without, I should note, once barking his shins on any of the furniture, despite not looking where he was going.

In our bedroom, he laid me down on our bed and settled between my legs, bearing his weight up off me on his strong arms. He looked down into my eyes and sighed.

“You’re lovely,” he said softly, wonderingly, and kissed me again. “You’re lovely and amazing and I love you.”

“I love you, too,” I whispered on his lips and he grinned, leaning up a bit on one arm and taking my hand again to look at the ring.

“It really was made to be worn by you. It fits so well.”

“Because I have my mother’s hands, fortunately or not.”

“I’d say very fortunately.”

“Would you, now?”

“Mmhmm. Not only are we keeping a Medina family tradition alive, but I also saved a bunch of money on an engagement ring.”

I whapped Brian’s arm and he laughed, leaning down to kiss me some more. I kissed him back, giggling as he started removing my sleep-clothes with callused, but gentle fingers. He was hard and grinding gently against my right thigh.

“Anyone ever tell you how sexy you are, Mr. Medina-Figueroa?” he asked as he flung my t-shirt over his shoulder. I heaved a put-upon sigh.

“Thousands of people . . . but I suppose I could suffer through it once more if you really feel the need to tell me. . . .” I sighed, pushing down his pajama bottoms as far as I could. He kicked them the rest of the way off, along with his slippers, and kissed the center of my chest, then the spot directly over my heart.

“You’re so sexy. . . .”

“Mm, why thank you, Mr. Figueroa-Medina.”

“I can’t wait to see you in that white dress.” He nuzzled my collarbone then kissed it. “I can imagine pushing up all those silly layers of fabric and removing the garter belt with my teeth.”

“Hmm . . . and would you help me out of the dress before you had your wicked way with me?”

“Nuh-uh. I’d fuck you with the dress on.” He chuckled on my throat and licked a slow stripe up to my chin. “Bend you over a table, push up those yards of white fabric, spread those gorgeous legs of yours, and. . . .”

“Pervert.” Beat. “And who says I’m gonna be the one wearing the dress in this marriage, anyway?”

My pajama bottoms went sailing off in the direction of my t-shirt. “I say. Because you’re ever so much prettier. Unlike me, you look good in drag. Really good.” Brian’s kisses wended their way up from my throat, to my lips, and his fingers found my left nipple and began to pinch and tease till I was writhing underneath him. My hands clenched on his hips and I arched up into his body, needing to feel him closer to me. Needing his skin on my own, for I was suddenly very anxious.

All I could see on the backs of my closed eyelids was that picture of my parents. All I could do was wonder why they’d left me, after years of purposely not wondering what had made them both disappear. For that way lay madness—lay depression so black and bleak that I refused to ever fall prey to it again. It’d eaten up my tween and teen years. I wouldn’t let it eat away at this joyous time with Brian. . . .

“Make love to me,” I breathed urgently, tamping down that anxiety and trying to blink away the sudden tears in my eyes. I didn’t believe in things like luck or curses, but . . . what if by sticking to the Medina tradition, Brian and I had doomed ourselves, somehow? What if we disappeared, someday, like my parents did? And years apart, so we wouldn’t even have the comfort of being together for nearly a decade? What if—

“I need to feel you inside me,” I begged quietly. The ring on my finger still seemed to radiate a chill—it wouldn’t warm up, not that my hands were exactly room temperature. They were still rather chilly and Brian had gasped when I first touched him. “Fuck me . . . please?”

“I was planning on it,” Brian said wryly, sitting up a little to look into my eyes, his own amused and horny. At least till he saw my face. Then he was frowning and cupping my face in his hand. “What’s wrong?”

I looked away. “It’s . . . you wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” I said shakily, thinking of the altered photo on our coffee table, and the note in disappearing ink on the back. I shook my head and sat up, pushing up Brian’s t-shirt. He let me take it off him, but wouldn’t lay back down when I tried to pull him down on top of me. “Baby. . . .”

“Jules,” Brian said, his eyebrows raising. He caught my hands and kissed them. “You’re worrying me. Ever since you showed me that photo of your parents, you’ve been acting . . . weird. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Bri, we just got engaged—of course I’m acting a little weird. I’m scared and giddy and excited and. . . .” I trailed off, smiling a little. It was true. I was all those things. But I was also anxious and scared of what the appearance of the photo and the ring meant. My gaze drifted from Brian’s worried eyes to the ring coldly adorning my finger.

Brian followed my gaze and his brow furrowed again. “Is it something about the ring?” he asked worriedly. “Should I not have proposed with it? I mean, I was just kidding about being too cheap to buy you an engagement ring. I’d buy you a thousand engagement rings. Whichever ones you want. Just say the word.” And then he kissed my palm again.

“Oh, Brian—I love you,” I said softly, tears filling my eyes. When they spilled over, Brian wiped them away, then laid down next to me, pulling me into his arms so that we were spooning. I went without hesitation and let myself be held.

“I love you, too, Jules. More than anything. And that’s why I’m worried about you. Please, please tell me what’s wrong.”

I groaned. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. . . .”

“Try me.” Brian kissed my shoulder then my temple and squeezed me tighter.

“I . . . can’t.”

“You can. Trust me, the way you do with everything else. I promise I won’t let you down.”

Closing my eyes on the left side of the room—the closet, the armoire, and the bureau—I sighed again. I was having a tough time keeping my secret, such as it was, with Brian being so understanding and loving. Which, I had to admit, he always was.

And anyway . . . I couldn’t keep this, of all things, a secret from him forever. Couldn’t keep not talking about my parents because it was painful and depressing.

Besides, if that picture was to be believed, my parents were alive and well—somewhere—in a place with magenta trees. They hadn’t left me because they didn’t love me, but to keep me safe. They had gone, but not forgotten about me. They still loved and thought about me. . . .

They were, in spite of everything . . . okay.

“It . . . it started twenty-eight years ago, when my father disappeared,” I began reluctantly, in a voice that sounded like my own, but felt as if it was coming from someone else. “One day, my mother woke up alone and he was . . . gone. Not to work, because it was a Sunday. At first she thought he’d gone to the store to get milk or something. But all his clothes were still there. And I mean all of them. Even his pajamas were still laid neatly on the bed, in the shape of a person lying flat on their back. As if he’d just vanished right out of them. . . .”

END

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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2016721-The-Medina-Heirloom