a token of affection

wings of desire. on a chain.

My Dearest Karl sent me a lovely piece of jewelry, which offered both the time as well as his likeness, all in one special package.   A wing of aged brass jutted out the side, like our pullets when they run to escape the occasional fox who slithers in the hen house.

That I might always be aware of time, as it ticks unceasing, until we reunite.  That is, indeed, how he phrased it.

Ah, but all round me, evidence that love dies, and along with it, time becomes the cruelest marker.  Just ask Mummi!  She stares all too often in her gilt mirror, asking too many questions of her weary eyes.  Muttering all the while, “Why did I follow my heart, instead of my head?”

The odd turns of the heart were a curiosity, but in my new-found state of smitten, I vowed that my own heart would never grow cold.  Once I loved, I promised, I would never un-love.  As if in agreement the locket watch ticked against my breast.

karl. karl. karl!

once I loved, I promised, I would never un-love

There was plenty of opportunity to write, rewrite, and write some more with regard to my new obsession, the young Archduke. Sitting on my throne of cloth while the three days of stillness leaked away, I composed my journal entries, sketched my daydreams, and, more to the point, wrote Karl Ludwig a return note.

His gift of alpine chocolates arrived, though the under-governess and the scullery maid had pinched them “to ensure their safety,” they’d said, but I knew they couldn’t resist the sweets. Shortly thereafter Gackl came bounding through the nursery with a wrapped box for me. Certainly my little brother was hoping for a ball or a rope or maybe even a set of building blocks. After unknotting the silk ribbon and ripping the rice paper to reveal the copper and rose-painted timepiece that hung from a modest silver chain, Gackl’s face deflated like a pin-stuck balloon. “Your admirer sent you a watch?”

It was lovely, and locket-sized. Dainty, even. I now wore it round my neck day and night, winding it every morning, happily hearing the tick, tick, tick, and imagining that far off in Vienna, Karl’s heart made that same sound.

Dear Karl, I began. And then crumpled the paper. Again: Dearest Karl. No. Another try: My Darling Karl. That one I ripped to shreds.