Chatter, smoke and neon lights replace the sun at dusk, and a girl floats through the ocean of blank faces and dark hair until she’s plucked from the crowds. 

The elderly saleswoman holds green bangles up to her face, murmuring about color and complexion and clarity. She settles on one, and the girl is too entranced and too timid to pull away when the woman pushes the bracelet past her fingers.

The bangle hits the fleshy part of her hand and stops moving. She tries to say, “It won’t fit” and “Maybe it’s too small,” but broken syllables dissolve into nonexistence when swallowed by uncertainty and the night air.

The stone circle stays stiff and unyielding, and the girl thinks the swirling emerald pattern is perhaps mocking her. But there is no greater determination and tenacity than a worn woman’s aged hands, and the bangle is twisted on. 

On the flight home, she fiddles with it, spinning it around and getting lost in the blurry sea of green.

Many suns set; many suns rise. She often mutters to herself about how the bracelet is awkward and heavy and clashes with most of her outfits. She’s tried to take it off several times, pulling until her hand flushes pink, then red, then purple, but it clings to her like an extra limb, and it hurts like trying to amputate one. 

And there are all these things that shackle her, haunted memories from other lifetimes and inherited packed-away dreams. Her hands are tied. Perhaps these are the skins and scars she’ll never shed—little cuts and bruises of unknown origin. She wears them on her sleeve, sometimes unwillingly, because they’re all over her eyes and lips, her skin and secret hopes.

One day when she falls, the bracelet will shatter, and the shackles will break. A thousand jagged fragments and a thousand jagged dreams mix with the wind like dandelion wishes and birthday candle smoke, but she’ll stay whole.


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