Black Ice – A Novella Chapter 10 – The Finale
By Kerry Xiong
Dearest, My Love.
No matter how many times I think about it, I am not able to let you go, my love. Don’t mistake me. It has nothing to do with how you came into my life. Nor does it matter that you were my first love. But it is the case that you were the person, the only one, who’s ever made me feel seen. You saw my worth, past the value of a bride’s price. And when it came down to it, you said no price is comparable to my head, my heart. That melted me deeply inside. You once said: Don’t be silly. Two Choj (Silver Slabs) cannot equal your worth. Not even ten comes close. And my love, ten, back then, was all that royalty had. But you deemed me so special. You said that so, so intently. It warmed my heart for once in my life.
When we first met, you took my hands in yours. I’d hesitated because these were the hands of a farmer’s daughter, a farm girl, scathed, fingernails unclean. Even so, you kissed these hands. You opened my palm and traced its creases with your finger.
“I know how to read palms, you know?”
I smiled without smiling. My heart giggled. Were you really so skilled?
You ever so gently flipped my hand in between yours, examining closely. Tracing each line with your eyes, rubbing each crease with your thumbs.
“This line,” you’d said, “Is the line of marriage.” You traced it to my wrist. This means you will bear two children.
Then you observed the pad of my fingers. Your eyes widened. You flipped my hands over and back, feeling each pad of my fingers as if you were trying to memorize the curvature in its print.
“You have, circles on all your fingers.” You looked up at me. “Did you know that?”
I shook my head, not understanding the significance.
“Look at your fingers. Each of your fingerprint is circular.” Your face fell into disbelief and awe all at once. Your eyes, heavy, concerned. “I’ve never met anyone with all ten fingers, circular. Whorl.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“No, it’s a good thing. It’s a gift from God.” Your smile reappeared. “Ten whorl finger prints is only a trait that God gives to those who are special and gifted.”
Your words were nonsensical, but yours eyes told me they were true. “What do you mean?”
“Anyone with this trait, whatever you want in life, you just have to ask God and he will grant it to you.”
“Are you serious?” I’d asked, shocked.
“Please go and ask your parents; I’m not lying about this at all. And when you get home, take a look at your family’s finger patterns. I am sure that there will be a variation in their patterns. I’ve been reading palms and fingers for some years now, and I have never met anyone with all ten whorls.” You squeezed my hands. “You’re special.”
I grabbed your hands right then. “What does your fingerprints look like?” I observed each of your thick fingers with my own frail ones. Your patterns were arches. “Wow!” I’d said. “And you have all ten arches. Is that normal?”
You made a face as if concern or fear swept over you.
“What? What is it?” I’d asked.
You didn’t tell me then, but I soon learned it when I’d already married. The truth was, shamans and palm readers have revealed, ten whorls and ten arches were a match made in heaven. Where ever those two go, they will never part. But why didn’t you tell me then? Why had you let me go?
“This line here,” you’d said again, “Is the line of marriage.” You traced it, again, to my wrist. This means you will bear two children. You looked up at me. “What genders would you like, Maiv?”
At that moment, I had thought, any gender is a gift from God, so long as they are with you, Cuaj Leeg.
I didn’t answer that question, however. I only asked, “How do you know all of this?”
“My grandfather taught me.” Your smile brightened as you peered up at me, eyes glistening.
I saw the future in your eyes. I saw my destiny written there, as if it were the language of the stars. And stars, you did know how to read. Late at night when at the farm, inside the roofless hut, you and I rested. Your arm under my neck, my cheek beside yours. I smelt the musk of your skin. The fresh launder of your black Hmong suit, the finest of ones, which they sold in the Laotian market. That reminded me of our differences. You were from a fortunate family. I was the daughter of a farmer. Yet, you reassured me, our lives would intertwine. Your parents didn’t want a poor Nyab into the family, but you said you’d fight for me. You would convince Mother and Father. You’d said, “Mother and Father” as if we’d already been wedded. And that warmed my heart. It told me that you were serious. If I could have a lifetime with you, I would be happy to die, be it tomorrow or in one hundred years.
My love, Cuaj Leeg, time was unkind to us. It led us down a path of passion, love, lust. But its destination clouded by the disruption of weather and war. Dearest my loved one, when I left Laos, I thought to myself, just a few more days, weeks, or months. That little time, I would able to wait for you. That little time, I could survive as long as I had you in the following days. But that was not what fate had in mind. We stay intertwined alright, but not in the way our hearts yearned. We were a match, but not in the most suitable way, my love.
My Cuaj Leeg, I wedded someone that was not you, and you someone that was not me. How devious, this life.
But now my time has come. So I leave you with the rest. But I will wait for you by the gates of heaven. When you should come, I will give you my hand, these circle fingers. Will you take them with your arches?