I don’t know why I took your amulet. I was in your room, lying on your bed, and I just saw it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it dangling back and forth. Carved into one side Phra Buddha Chinnarat, the other Ganesha, and I thought, “Why would a good Italian boy have this amulet?” Maybe you are secretly a Buddhist, but then you would never let this hang anywhere but around your neck. You left it hanging on your bedpost.
At first I backed away, as not to touch it, but then I saw a crucifix above your bed, and I know you put it there. Again I looked at the amulet. “Why is this here?” Did you get this amulet blessed? Did you bring a bowl of rice, and incense, and a wreath? And did you make a sacrifice to a Buddhist monk? No, this amulet does not hang from your neck and bring you strength or protection. This is no sacred amulet; this is a pendant, a memory. You go to a foreign land and you feel the need bring back a keepsake. A shirt or a post card won’t do; this item has to be something sacred. An amulet, a piece of the Berlin Wall, an empty bullet shell, a scar, a story, a woman; Americans always bring home their treasures.
Looking at your amulet dangling on the bedpost, these thoughts swarmed my mind. Thoughts of my father bringing home my mother’s mangled body to America and marrying her. My father was a good man, but did he love my mother? I don’t think so. But he was too full of guilt and sorrow, and he loved that she made him feel human. He loved that every day he was with her it felt as though one day from a previous life was being repaid. Then they had me, and my father felt as if he had planted a seed in the ashes of the forest he had burnt down. And now he had two pendants. Two things to remind him of where he had been and what he had seen, and to remind him he was a good man because when he could, he helped someone. But that is not an honest life. Your amulet swaying back and forth by my head became that dishonesty.
I know that you don’t touch another’s amulet, and I know if this is actually blessed I have brought bad fortune to us both, and for this I apologize. But you must understand, as I watched the amulet sway back and forth it became clear that the engravings were not of Phra Buddha Chinnarat, or of Genesha, but of my mother and me.
—Chris Lombardo recently graduated from Western Connecticut State University, with a BA in Professional Writing. His writing has been featured in publications such as Strange Horizons, Cottages & Gardens and Black and White: A Literary Journal. Currently, Chris is an editorial intern at Cottages & Gardens Publications, as well as a freelance writer and short fiction writer.