Three days before it happened, Alex showed me his shark-tooth necklace. One shark tooth, about an inch long, that hung on a string of glass and ceramic beads. He used his thumb like a little paddle to push the tooth closer to my face. Hey look at this! I got this tooth. What do you think?
That’s cool said I. His ring of friends folded their arms and made smuggy, chin-up faces, nodding. Cool. You wanna tell me where the shark tooth came from? How’d you get it? Can I touch it? Sharp! Alex’s round face beamed and he took in the glory like a big chief.
You can touch it. It’s cool.
Three days later, he broke the string when he got to jostling with one of his friends. I think his buddy wanted to grab Alex’s chocolate milk – always coveted – and Alex caught the string with his index finger when he bobbled the milk carton. Beads popped off and bounced along concrete. Alex stopped short. His eyes grew. Then he collapsed into a sobbing lump.
His friend Miguel came to tug on my sleeve. Alex! His string came undone. The tooth is gone!
I saw Alex and crouched down low so that he could hear me. He wouldn’t look up and he didn’t have the strength to stand. Man, I said, we can fix this. We can string the whole thing back together. I promise, I said.
When I used the ‘p’ word, he lifted his wet and red face, rubbed his hand through his black spiky hair, and made eye contact – maybe to see whether I meant it. I told him I meant it. Beads had started a slow roll toward the drain. So we got busy.
We got three of his friends together, blocked the drain and worked the concrete deck on our knees. No way to prove it, but I think we found every bead. We also found a set of lost keys that had disappeared an hour before – that’s when the next thing happened.
The arc of the weaving grew. We found that the keys belonged to a tall slim man, an uncle of someone who, because he had lost his keys, hadn’t been able to go to work. He couldn’t start his car without his keys.
When the tall guy got the keys, he said thanks an put a red envelop in my pocket, He told me to give it to the kid. Noting that some kind of cycle was in the works, I gave Alex the envelop. Alex then took the gift in his right hand, passed it to his left, and gave it back to me. You keep it. Thank you.
For Alex, we put his beads and his tooth in a small bag. He said he’d take it to his mom and she would string the necklace again. For the uncle, I didn’t have a chance to ask.
Linked wishes, braided hopes, and just the right amount of faith. Even luck. Not stupid luck, but the kind that respects how everything undone comes together in time. Up, over, through. Up, over, through. A good weaver knows to make things come together you need a little bit of muscle and the persistence of the steady pull.
To my beloved K whose work in this life is to weave together that which allows destiny to become.