I’ve found a number of walk-on personas to fill the lighter corners of many a page via mere observation, whether by standing in line at the bank, driving or browsing the languid aisles of a bookstore. Once in a great while–however–a writer comes across a personality who needs no words of introduction. Standing by a tall “mingling” table–at one of my husband’s company events recently–I saw just such a character… The Woman with the Amber Bracelet.
Her gray shoulder-length hair was pulled back in a shabby-chic bun,with a few wispy escapees curling by her ears. In contrast to the fine stones at her wrist a bulky, bauble’d necklace hung around her neck; it lay rather ostentatiously upon the beige linen jacket adorning her shoulders. Her presence seemed to shout “artist” and, yet, my eye drifted back to her bracelet. The hand-burnished pieces of amber filtered the hanging lights overhead into golden points on the tablecloth that moved as she raised or lowered her wineglass.
The bracelet’s presence intrigued me. It did not seem to fit the wrist it was on, nor did it match her outfit. The antique, worked metals–holding the stones–spoke of a far older time than the gray-haired artist would have known. Perhaps it was a gift from an elegant loved one a long time ago, a beloved grandmother or great-aunt. That made more sense; the bracelet seemed chosen–not for fashion or anti-fashion–but as a tether to the past. More so a piece of tangible nostalgia than a badge to be shown off, as if the wearer hoped some of the bracelet’s experiences might eventually impart themselves.
It’s owner did not speak, but watched everyone within visible range of her table. Her expression interested me almost as much as the bracelet. She seemed bored, irritated and strangely content all at once, suggesting several lines of simultaneous thought. Despite one—or all—of these assumptions of mine, her face softened as her husband approached; he bore two, tiny white plates of hors d’oeuvres. The hand bearing the bracelet lifted to lightly touch the back of his, a wordless gesture of fondness, one that would move a stone statue to smile.
Both of their hands looked spotted with the kisses of a thousand sunny days. I imagined them on the side of a hill–overlooking some distant valley–the husband squinting through the viewfinder of a camera as it sat on the spindly legs of a tripod. She’d be nearby, I thought, perched cross-legged on the rounded top of a low boulder—her sketchpad out—with the end of a lead-less pencil flicking back and forth over the edge of a breeze-blown page.
I wondered how many such scenes the amber bracelet had witnessed. It lay against the artist’s wrist, heavy with its well of stories.
~ L. R. Styles