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Linda M. Johnson


I bought myself a locket not long ago. Lockets, especially the ornately heart-shaped variety, are usually the sort of thing you get from significant others at significant times. They are one of the safe choices that make gift-giving easy on Valentine’s Day, and on birthdays and anniversaries--all those occasions for ritualized shows of affection. Flowers, candy—and a locket. Yes. And in that locket, that opulent little box with all its Victorian implications of true and eternal love, the giver can expect to see himself enshrined as the king of hearts—or at least the master of yours.
I fell in love for the first time on Valentine’s Day. That was 28 years ago. I have no idea where he is now, or what he looks like, or what’s become of him. I care as little for him now as he did for me then. The same goes for the two who would in time come after him, and make it clear that if I wanted flowers or candy or anything else of the sort, I’d have to buy my own.
So, I bought this locket. It’s a cleanly modern piece, an artfully designed wedding of glass and sterling that hinges in two at the bottom, screws shut at the top, and could as easily hold an encrypted formula for cold fusion as the portrait of a lover. Its a pretty thing, and I have no idea what I’ll do with it. I can’t think of a single human face I’ve ever see that I’d now care to have hanging around my neck, so close to my heart.
I guess I’ll put it away for a while. Maybe someone—or something—will come along to fill it. And then again, maybe not. Maybe it’ll just be my own personal piece of negative space—a useful, tangible reminder of certain realities—lest I forget.