Bound by a Ring This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Ithad been a long day, and I still hadn't taken my run. It was the one thing I didevery day and never thought twice about. It was like breathing, I just ran out ofthe house, numbed by the routine. I had just started to stretch when I heard avoice calling my name. I saw my papa on the porch swing and ran over, annoyedthat I would be delayed again. Then I dismissed that emotion when I thought aboutthe love he had always shown me.

"Come, Michael, sit with me. Ihaven't seen you in a few days, and I am starting to forget who you are. Comehere, Michael. Talk with me," he said as I approached.

"I'msorry, I can't right now. I've been doing things for Mom and Dad all day and Ihaven't gotten to run yet. I'll sit and talk with you when I come back,okay?" I bargained.

"I have something for you. I know that youdon't enjoy our time together, but I can assure you that you will enjoy mysurprise. This is really important to me, and it has to be done tonight, now.Please, Michael."

"I love talking with you, it's just that Iwant to run. I'll be out of it for days if I don't go."

"Thereare just some things that are more important than running. I love you, Michael.You have to savor other things in life. Be-sides, I have a gift foryou."

"Okay, I guess you're right. I love you,too."

"Sit," he said, patting the porch swing. "Now,be patient."

"Ah, Papa," I replied. He spun his ring, eventhough his fingers were covered with wrinkles. Below the ring, his flesh stillhad the softness of his youth. The ring had been there for decades. I watchedhim; I'd watched this habit for years. It was the one thing I always knew hewould do. He was always twirling it, as if he needed to touch it to be sure thatit was still there.

"I really should go. We'll talk tomorrow,"I tried again.

"Kenneth Michael! Stay. Trust me, this is worth morethan a run," he snapped. "You can run the trails later. Them trailsain't gonna know no different if you're a bit late."

"It's justMom and Dad. They already

say I spend too much time running." Hegrinned. My parents were so protective, so afraid that I might get hurt. They'dnever let this world get hold of me.

"You can go out later. Besides,I'm tellin' you, tonight's the night. A precious night."

"Thenight for what?" I asked. "You still haven'tsaid."

"Sit," he repeated, tapping the swing. "Bepatient." With a shake of my head, I slid next to him. I tried to hide it,but I caught myself smiling. In silence we waited as the night crept in. Justbefore the moon crawled into the heavens, he spotted it and pointed. We bothstared in awe until the moon rose and blotted the comet from the sky. It was sobeautiful. It was trailed by colors that lit up the sky. It was truly the mostmajestic sight I had ever seen.

"Wow," I said. "That was soawesome. I have never seen anything like it. Thanks for making me stay to see it.I really did enjoy watching it with you. I'm even happier though that you choseto watch it with me. Thank you."

He spun his ring one last time insilent agreement. I watched, not sure what he was thinking. He had a kind of sad,but content, look on his face.

"Now I'll tell you why I asked youhere," he said after a bit.

"It wasn't just to see the comet,was it?"

"That's part. But there's more." He slapped my legand heaved a long sigh. "In 1910, my granddad sat me on this porch as thecomet passed overhead. He had to force me to stay, too. I wanted to go out andplay with a buddy, but he made me stay and watch it with him. I still rememberthat night. It was so magical. Grandpappy pulled off this ring and gave it tome."

To illustrate, he removed the ring and handed it to me. I heldit in my palm, dumbfounded. I wondered if it had looked the same in 1910.Clasping my hand, he took the ring and placed it on my finger. It was a littleloose.

"You'll grow into it. I had to. This ring has been a greatpart of my life ever since he gave it to me. It is one of my most prizedpossessions and I would never give it to anyone else but you. You remind me ofmyself. Young and energetic.

"By God's grace, I lived so manyyears to see this night," he told me. "By God's grace, I pray you'lllive to see this comet again. That next visit, it will be your turn. You'll sityour own grandson down and give him this ring."

"Yourring?" I asked.

"Yep, this ring that God's blessed our familywith. It's yours now, until the night that comet lights the heavens again. I wantyou to keep this ring. Don't ever give it up until the time comes to give it toyour grandson." I leaned back in the swing and gazed out across the sky asthough it were the first time I'd ever seen it. He put his arm around me andsmiled. On my right hand, I spun my new ring.

I went home and told myparents about the night. I didn't even remember that I hadn't run. The next day Igot caught up in the world again. I got lost in myself and my own life and paidless attention to Papa. Two weeks after he gave me the ring, he had a stroke anddied. I never got to tell him good-bye, but that's okay. I know that he islooking down on me as I wait for the day when I can give my grandson the ring. Iknow that after I have done that, he will be waiting for me to join him, so wecan share our bond of the ring once again.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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