What’s the oldest thing you own? (Toys, clothing, twinkies, Grecian urns: anything’s fair game.) Recount its history — from the object’s point of view.
It was 1945, or thereabouts when I got to Timmy’s house. I’ll never forget how excited he was when he opened my package. The trip from Battle Creek had been relatively uneventful but I welcomed the warmth when I got to Arizona. Michigan is cold during the winter, Phoenix, not so much.
Timmy lifted me gently from the box and stared. I guess I’ve always been a beauty though, so I can’t blame him. Upstairs, he pored over my instruction leaflet and practiced drafting a few messages.
DID YOU GET YOURS YET DIANE?
L7L BF1 M3W BF1OX B3W L7GA3?
I rode the bus to school with Timmy that day. He slipped the message to a young girl on the bus. It was Diane. She palmed the note and didn’t acknowledge Timmy at all, true Captain Midnight Acolytes in training. She was good, and so was Timmy.
Later that day, at lunch, Timmy pulled a scrap of paper out from beneath the table where it had been placed in the cracks between two boards. On the playground he used me to help decode it. It was from Diane.
YES, ARRIVED IN THE MAIL YESTERDAY
And so began the encoded love affair between Timmy and Diane. Secret messages were exchanged between these two all the way through College. In the beginning, they exchanged messages about radio programs, siblings, friends, and parents. As they got older the contents matured and by the time they were both 18 I was helping them arrange clandestine weekend getaways with one another. Always the messages were encoded and decoded with my help. Diane had a ring as well, I knew she did and I caught a glimpse of hers once. A dull silver colored replica of me with a green wheel, a real beauty, although I was painted gold and had the red wheel.
I remember when I helped Timmy encode his proposal to Diane. On that day:
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
Z5BB HCU 8LAAY 8F?
The U encoded as a U that day. Sometimes letters would remain unchanged, that’s the way I worked. I thought it was sweet that it was the U remaining unchanged that day. Timmy was nervous; I knew he had no reason to be. Anyone could tell that Diane loved him. The next morning Timmy found a note that had been slipped under the door.
He didn’t need me to decode that one.
Years sped by and I spent a lot of them alone in a wooden box on top of Timmy’s dresser. Occasionally he would pull me out to encode a message for Diane. Things they didn’t want the kids to read, birthdays and the like, it was good to have the old wheel spun around and exercised from time to time. The last time Timmy pulled me out I helped him encode a love poem for Diane’s 50th anniversary present.
Life is good for us Captain Midnight Encoder Rings.
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