Stories

Finders Keepers

© Susan Lyons

“Hey, Mom, there’s a rainbow!” Adam thundered into the kitchen, yelling at the top of his lungs.

Marcy put down the rolling pin and followed him out the back door. On the porch, she and her six-year-old gazed at the colorful arch. “That’s our reward for having to stay inside on a Sunday afternoon,” she said. “I wonder where the pot of gold is?”

“Pot of gold?” Curious blue eyes peered up, out of an impish triangular face.

“Haven’t I told you that story? There’s supposed to be a pot of gold buried at the end of the rainbow.”

“Hey, cool. Can I go out and play now?”

Marcy watched him pelt down the steps then went inside to finish the peach pie. When it was in the oven she decided to do some weeding while the soil was moist. Being a single parent was tough, what with a house and yard to maintain as well as holding down a job and raising Adam. She had to make every minute count.

She found her son in a far corner of the yard, digging industriously under the lilac bush. “What are you up to?”

He grinned at her, all white teeth, freckles and mud. “The rainbow ended here.”

“Right here? In our very own garden?”

He nodded energetically. “I saw it. So I’m going to dig up that pot of gold. Then we’ll be rich, right?”

“Sounds good to me.”

Marcy got to work and was digging muddily herself when Adam appeared beside her. “I think I found it,” he said doubtfully.

“It? Oh, the pot of gold?”

“It’s not a pot but I think it’s gold.” He held out something small and dirt-encrusted.

She stripped off her gloves and took it from him. It looked like a woman’s ring. “Let’s clean it up and see what you’ve got.”

Inside, she used soap and an old toothbrush, then slipped the thin golden band on her finger. The cluster of sparkly stones looked like a delicate flower.

She showed it to Adam. “I’m sure it’s just junk jewelry, but it’s pretty, isn’t it?”

“Girl stuff,” he growled. “Guess you can have it.”

“You don’t want to keep it for when you have a girlfriend?”

“Oh, Mom!” He gave her a horrific scowl.

“I think I’ll take it to a jeweler, just to make sure it’s not real. I’d hate to think some poor soul lost her engagement ring.”

*   *   *   *   *

“Diamonds and sapphires,” the jeweler said, when she popped in at lunch time. “This ring’s had a lot of wear, but it’s worth a few thousand dollars.”

“My gosh!”

“Let me know if you want to sell it. The setting’s old-fashioned but lots of folks like that kind of thing.”

“Folks like me. I’m an old-fashioned girl.”

“Nothing wrong with keeping it.”

*   *   *   *   *

His words rang in her head all afternoon as she typed legal documents. Someone had worn and loved this ring. She couldn’t keep it, at least not until she’d done her best to track down the owner.

As soon as she and Adam got home she hunted for the papers relating to the purchase of the house. She called the vendors and asked if they’d lost any jewelry while they lived there. The answer was no. But they passed along the name of the couple they’d bought the house from, twenty years earlier.

“What are the chances?” Marcy muttered as she checked the phone book for a Peter or Margit Osterman. There was only one Osterman – Ben – in the book.

A pleasant male voice answered the phone and she said, “I’m looking for Peter and Margit Osterman?”

“They were my parents. Dad died many years ago, and Mom passed on a few months back.”

“I’m so sorry. I was calling because I live at 572 Beech Street and –”

“We lived there when I was a kid. Moved to a smaller place when Dad took sick.”

“I bought from the people who came after you. Anyhow, I wonder if your mother lost any jewelry while you were living there?”

“Her ring.” The answer was immediate. “Don’t tell me you’ve found her ring!”

“Can you describe it?”

“It looked kind of like a flower. Diamonds and…I guess they’d be sapphires.”

“That’s the one. My son Adam found it. There was a rainbow and he said it ended in our yard. He was digging for the pot of gold. Do you want to come over and get it?”

“I’ll be right there, if it’s no inconvenience.”

She began to prepare dinner and had just put a pan of scalloped potatoes into the oven when she heard someone run up the back steps. She turned around just as a man tapped on the frame of the open door.

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A woman's hand, wearing a ring, holds the hand of a man

 

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He was tall and lean in jeans and a golf shirt, with chestnut hair that flopped over one eye. His grin was crooked and engaging as he said, “I should have come to the front door but I didn’t even think. Mom always made me come in the back.”

“Hello, Ben. Come on in. I’m Marcy Goodman.” She held out her hand and found that his handshake was as friendly as his smile. His eyes – blue like Adam’s and her own – were bright with pleasure.

“Thanks for tracking me down,” he said. “Not many people would have done that.”

She picked the ring up from the counter and put it in his hand. “It’s such a pretty ring and I sensed that someone really loved it. I wanted to get it back to her. I’m sorry your mom…” She broke off.

“Me too.” He curled his hand around the ring. “This dates back to my great grandparents. It was a family tradition. When the oldest son was ready to marry, his mother gave him the ring to give to his bride.”

“And your dad gave it to your mom. That must have made her feel really special.”

“Grandma said she’d always hated the idea of giving up the ring but when she met my Mom, all of a sudden it was all right.”

“How sweet. And now you can give it to your wife.”

“When I find the right woman.” He grinned. “One Mom would have approved of, of course.”

She smiled back and he studied her face for a long moment then glanced at her left hand. “You’re not wearing a ring yourself.”

“I’m divorced.”

“That’s too bad.”

“I’m sad for Adam. He rarely sees his dad now – but then he didn’t see him a lot before. As for me, I’m happier this way. Thomas and I…were a mistake. And I got this great house in the divorce settlement.”

Their eyes met and she felt a warm thrill of awareness. “Marcy,” he began, but at that moment Adam burst into the kitchen.

By the time introductions had been made and stories told, it was supper time. It seemed natural to invite Ben to stay. As the three of them sat at the kitchen table, Marcy thought that this was how a family was supposed to be: both parents home for dinner, everyone taking an interest in each other’s day, lots of laughter.

She learned that Ben was a landscape architect who ran his own business. He had a little house on the other side of town and a golden retriever named Sunster – and he seemed like a really nice man.

When it was time for Ben to leave, he squeezed Adam’s shoulder. “Thanks for finding Mom’s ring.”

“It wasn’t me, it was the rainbow. It led me right to it.”

“Funny, how rainbows can lead you to things that are really special.” Ben’s glanced up from her son and smiled at Marcy – a warm smile that heated her cheeks.

To her, he said, “It’s been a wonderful evening. It reminded me of being a kid, eating supper in this kitchen with my parents.”

“I enjoyed it too.” She wanted to ask him back again, but she was too old-fashioned to issue the invitation.

“Marcy?” he said. “Come out with me for a minute.”

When they stood together on the little back porch, Marcy hurried nervously into speech. “Adam found the ring under the lilac bush.” She pointed.

“Mom loved lilacs,” he said nostalgically. “In the spring she always had them on the kitchen table.”

“I do that too.”

He turned to her. “Somehow I knew that. Just like I know Mom would have liked you. And Adam.”

Her breath caught, and caught again when he lifted his hand and brushed a wayward curl from her cheek. “Marcy? Can I take you and Adam out for supper tomorrow?”

“To, uh, thank us?”

He shook his head. “No. Because I want to see you again.” Under the porch light, his eyes sparkled as bright as the sapphires in his mother’s ring.

“We’d like that. Very much.”

– The End –

 

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