I reread the note as I walked into the schoolyard. “I have your most prized possession; if you want it back, go to the Field Three pitcher’s mound behind the high school at 9:00p.m. tonight. Bring your baseball glove.”
My Dad’s old baseball glove was tattered and worn from long use, but it was the only one I owned. Crippling asthma prevented me from playing, which I'm sure disappointed him, especially since he'd gotten the glove from his father. It had become a family heirloom.
And my most prized possession? That was my Dad’s engineer’s ring; the one he’d said would be mine when I graduated. His death made me even more determined to earn the right to wear it. The ring had been gone from its display case on my dresser for several days; obviously stolen, but I had no idea who did it or why.
I rounded the corner at 8:59 expecting to see a shady figure in a trenchcoat. The trenchcoat was the only part I got right.
Isabelle Holden was sitting on the pitcher’s mound with her face in her hands. She was wearing a dark green trenchcoat and a stocking cap, but her white hair was a dead giveaway to her identity. As I approached I could hear quiet sobbing.
Isabelle and I were both competing for the Deane Scholarship in Engineering, and the rivalry had been pretty intense. We'd both pushed ourselves hard trying to outdo each other. I’d gotten my “not you” letter the day before, so I figured she’d won. She didn’t look like much of a winner at that moment, though.
“Isabelle? You okay?”
“What do you care?”
“Look, about the scholarship…”
“F__k the scholarship!” Her fiery pink eyes looked up, then softened slightly. “Sorry. I mean congratulations. I guess you earned it." She looked down again. "That’s not why I’m here.”
“What? I thought you won. But that's not why I'm here either. I came because I got this note…”
She leapt to her feet. “A note? Can I see that?” She took the note and compared it to one she’d been holding. “The same, word for word. Same handwriting too.”
“What did they steal from you?”
“None of your… a ring. My mother’s wedding ring. It’s all I have left of her.” The tears started up again.
“Don’t cry. I know the thief will turn up.”
By 9:30 it was pretty clear nobody else was going to show. We hadn’t shared ten words in that time, but it was comforting just to have someone around.
Finally she turned to me. “One thing bugs me, Pete. Why did the note say to bring a baseball glove?”
I'd been wondering that too. “I dunno. I never even played baseball.”
I decided to check out my glove to see if it had a clue that we'd somehow both missed. Something was stuck in the little finger; a bit of fishing revealed a woman’s ring with a small diamond on it. That’s when I got it.
“Isabelle, check your glove.”
She fumbled with it a bit and soon had my Dad’s ring in her hand. She stared like it was from Mars. "Why would someone...?"
"It's not about the rings, it's about the people."
Before she could react I took her left hand and gently slid her mother's ring onto her finger. She pulled back, then burst into tears and hugged me. Her grip was so tight I had trouble breathing.
After a few minutes she pulled away, then put my Dad's ring on my finger. She must have seen the look in my eye.
"Don't you dare kiss me, Pete."
I didn't. But a few years later when I put the ring on her finger again I did. The Minister told me to.