Charlie’s Room: The Ring
One evening, when the clock said it was late, but the sky wasn’t dark yet, Isaac was taking the trashcan to the curb. The air was still far too warm, and sweat glued his shirt to his back by the time he reached the end of the driveway.
He set the trashcan in place so that it wasn’t blocking the driveway, and turned to go back inside. As he shuffled across the sidewalk, dreaming of a cold glass of water, he kicked aside the pebbles and sticks in his way.
And then there was a metallic sound. Something grated and chimed as it skidded across the cement. Isaac looked down. What if it was a rusty nail? Those had to be disposed of properly, or someone could step on one and get ill.
It took him a moment, but in the fading light of the dying day, he saw a ring sitting innocently in the middle of the sidewalk. How odd. He reached towards it, but drew his hand back. Just for a moment, he’d felt the strangest surge of anger, and it seemed to be coming from the ring.
Why would a ring be so angry? Perhaps it didn’t like being kicked down the sidewalk. But it must be an unusual ring to have feelings at all. He pulled a business card out of his wallet and called Wendell, Wizard Extraordinaire.
“An angry ring?” Wendell asked. “Really? I’ll be right there.”
Moments later, the air unzipped itself and Wendell stepped out, nearly colliding with the trashcan. “Watch out,” Isaac said.
“That isn’t normally there, is it?” Wendell asked.
“Just once a week. It’s our trash. It all gets collected and taken away.”
Wendell scrunched up his nose. “That explains the smell. What do they do with it? Do they use it all as fuel for something?”
“No, I think they bury it,” Isaac said. Wendell made a face. Isaac sighed. “I know. Now come see the ring. It’s over here on the sidewalk.”
Isaac hurried over. “And you’ve never seen it before today?”
“The first time I saw it was after I kicked it.”
Wendell leaned in closer. “Oh, that’s not pleasant. It’s definitely out of place, as well. I wonder how it ended up here.” He mumbled some words and hummed a bit. “Oh. It likes to get lost. It’s rather contrary.”
Isaac looked at the ring. It looked so normal and small. “Do rings normally have feelings? That isn’t a person that’s been turned into a ring, right?”
“It’s pretty old. Old things tend to take on a bit of life and personality of their own.”
Isaac thought about that for a minute. “Is that why people like antiques?”
“Well, that and the higher quality,” Wendell said. He hummed and chanted and reached into his pocket to pull out a dark blue envelope covered in silver writing. He used it to scoop up the ring.
“Is it dangerous?” Isaac asked.
“Hmmm?” Wendell pulled a lit candle from his pocket and dropped wax onto the closed envelope flap. He then put the candle back into his pocket, still lit, and sealed the wax with a ring that Isaac hadn’t noticed him wearing until just that minute.
“The ring. Is it dangerous?”
“Oh. Yes. Well, certainly not anymore.” Wendell put the envelope into the pocket with the lit candle. Isaac wasn’t sure how he kept everything all sorted out and unburnt.
“So, it was dangerous?”
Wendell sighed. “I don’t know. Anything that angry could be dangerous. I’ll ask a few friends what they think.”
“Thank you. What do I owe you?” Isaac asked.
“I’ll send you a bill,” Wendell said. “Say hi to Charlie for me.” He unzipped the air, and as he stepped through, Isaac could see a room full of books and starlight. And then, Wendell was gone.
That evening, Isaac sat down to read to Charlie. “Oh, Wendell said hi.”
“Is that the wizard you tell me stories about? Do you have a new one?”
Isaac smiled. “Well done. That’s right, but they’re not just stories. They really happen.”
“Uh huh. Sure they do. So what happened this time?” Charlie asked.
“They really do,” Isaac said. “This time, it all started when I was taking the trash out…”