It is not the type of jewelry that normally attracts her. Placed in the corner of the glass case, treated as nothing more than a brassy trinket, there is an ethereal quality to the piece that catches her eye and holds her, spellbound.
“May I look at this please?”
Rowan holds it in her hand and knows she must have it. The woman’s face on the locket captivates her; long flowing hair, with a necklace of tiny inset emeralds. She has seen that face somewhere before. Turning it over, she locates the clasp to open the locket. Inside, under glass, is a curl of golden blonde hair. It is almost the exact color of hers. This seals her decision.
The shop keeper acquiesces to her offer. Under normal circumstances, she is the worst haggler but this time is different.
Pleased with herself, she puts on the locket as soon as she leaves the shop. It suits her, rests near her heart.
She stops into the local bar to have a glass of wine. As she sips her wine, she caresses the locket, as if willing it to give up its secrets. The locket is smooth, feels warm in her hand as she ponders the mystery of whose hair is in the locket. Why she felt so compelled to buy it.
For as long as she can remember, her own hair has been her nemesis. As a child, she wore it long because she had no choice. Mor (mother) loved her long blonde hair. Once Rowan became an adult, she cut it off and never looked back. Puzzled, she asks herself, so why would this locket entice me so now, today? No answers come to her.
Once home, she removes the necklace and showers, gets ready for bed. At the last-minute, she puts the necklace back on.
As she is drifting off to sleep, Rowan remembers where she has seen the face on the locket. Jumping out of bed, she rushes over to her bookcase, finds the book her parents gave her when she left Norway. Her mother used to read to her every night. D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths was her companion, urging her to dream of gods as she listened to her mother’s melodic voice. Thumbing through the book, she finds what she is looking for.
There, spanning two pages is the drawing of Sif, goddess of household and family ties, and Thor’s wife. The face matches the one on her locket.
This worn and tattered book was her mother’s when she was little. In fact the very name Rowan is from Norse Mythology. Myths abound about the Rowan tree, from which the first woman was made. The tree was said to have saved the life of the god Thor by bending over a fast flowing river in the Underworld in which Thor was being swept away, and helped him back to the shore. Rowan was also the prescribed wood on which runes were inscribed to make rune staves.
As Rowan climbs back into bed, she wonders what all this means. Her sleep is fitful, filled with dreams of gods and women with long hair. And Mor sitting beside her bed, reading.
Startled out of her sleep by the sound of her phone ringing, she answers, hello? It is her father, asking her to come home. Her mother is ill and may die.
Rowan throws some things into a bag and takes a taxi to the airport. It’s a 7 hour flight from New York to Oslo. She prays she makes it home in time to see her mother, tell her how much she loves her.
She arrives at her parents’ home as the doctor is arriving. Rushes in to be by her mother’s side. As she leans down to kiss her mother’s forehead, the locket slips from beneath her blouse. The delicate locket caresses her mother’s cheek.
Shocked, her mother says to her, “Rowan, you’re here. I dreamed I was reading to you, as I did when you were a child. Where did you find my necklace? I have searched for that necklace for years upon years. I wanted to give it to you. Does it still have your lock of hair in it?”
Smiling through her tears, she says, “Yes, Mor it does.”