|Coincidence Four Clover
© Copyright 2001 by Michael Crifasi
I was walking the gravel trail around the little highway park when I found it, nestled between its more average brothers and sisters, but just visible in its marked variation.
The trip was to be a three day excursion to the southern end of Ohio, specifically to the Hocking Hills region for hiking and enjoyment of the lush Midwestern Outdoors. Two hours into the drive, my friends parents, whom I had not seen in many years, decided it was time we stopped for a break. The little park was perfect, though it was little more than a suburban rest stop really. We must have been there less than half an hour, but it was enough for something special to happen, perhaps even for something special to begin.
As my friend walked ahead of me on the path that circumnavigated the park's woody interior, his parents sat yards away from us, silently smoking their expensive cigarettes at a weathered and marked picnic table. I was glad for the moment of quiet, and the moody music that had been coursing through me via my headset minutes before, coursed still, carried through my mind by the speaker of memory. My head was bowed and the denim jacket I refused to throw away warmed me against the slightly chilled June air. Gravel crunched beneath my friend's steps ahead, followed by a more audible crunch of my own, always the same amount of seconds apart. The sun was setting in the western sky, and the daylight was just beginning to turn. From my ground cast vision, I swept the fields of clover to the sides of the path.
With the rhythm of that old friend's strides falling in time with mine (and to the music playing silently between my ears) I thought of patterns, and then spotted the object that would mark the beginning of something I have yet to define.
It stood a little taller than it's kin if I recall, and one of it's four leaves was chipped just the tiniest bit. The sudden appearance it made froze me all the same, and the beat I had become so accustomed to was struck dead. I felt only the wind gently tugging at my hair as I bent and picked it from the ground, marveling at the moment that I had been sure would never happen to someone like me.
I gently lay it inside a compact mirror I kept for signaling on my nature ventures, and said nothing. I caught up to my friend and tucked the mirror away, without mentioning the treasure it now contained.
For some reason, I felt the warmth glowing inside of me was best kept to myself.
The year leading up to the trip had been the most emotional of my life, and in truth, it had not ended all that well. The vacation was meant to give me some time to recharge, and recover from the turbulence of the home front I had left. I was only fourteen at the time, but much of life had been revealed to me in the short course of time since the previous winter, perhaps more than a child of fourteen is prepared for, and I did not know how to begin the task of putting my life back on track.
The clover tucked away in my mirror was a good start though, and I found the hope I was searching for, on the second night of the trip.
Standing outside of my hotel, I was once again alone, as my friend was skating around the deserted lot of the restaurant nearby. Finding it to be only my second chance for solitude (and the contemplation that usually accompanies it) yet on the trip, I began to walk, and enjoy the clarity of my own thoughts.
When I walked around the annex building standing vacant and silent across the lot, the clarity I thought I had was dashed to pieces; by one of only two moments in my entire life when I felt that things truly were just as they should be, and one of only two moments when I was sure all the things I desired could be had. Not that they would be had, but the blissful knowledge that it was at least possible. In essence, I found the hope that so many of us search for, but never really find.
The building was silent, and the woods on the other side of the clearing I had stumbled into were the same. The unchecked grass flowed in the wind between. All these things I found solace in, but did not compare to what I found when I looked to the heavens.
The sky was the most beautiful I have ever seen, framed by the dark outlines of the quiet buildings and the ring of ancient trees. The stars were so thick I could almost feel their fullness descending upon me, teasing to draw me into their diamond and velvet eternity forever. Standing there gazing, I lost my sense of time, and in all honesty, my sense of life.
At that moment, everything was fine. I can offer no explanation for it other than that I knew that hope existed, and it that was alright to hold onto it.
I have no idea how long I stood there, but I hold very little doubt that if my friend had not come to call for me, I might never have returned at all. I surely had no desire to ever leave that simple euphoria I had found.
Walking back to the hotel, my friend trying to bring me back to the realities of the day, I remember being absolutely sure that I would never find such contentment again, but harbored the hope of the possibility all the same.
Four years later I went to visit that same old friend, in that same old town where we had both once lived. I had no expectations for the night, other than to enjoy a small vacation from what was ending up to be the second most turbulent year of my life, that in which I turned eighteen.
After some time spent at his apartment catching up with other friends I had fallen out of contact with, we ventured to a party on private invitations. I had no idea who would be waiting for us out there. We drove down the winding country roads, fireflies dancing in the fields to either side. We did not speak, and the CD's laser grind was all the soundtrack that the night requested.
When we came to the party at the country house of another friend, I was still totally unaware of who awaited our company in celebration through the door. When I finally made it in, to the sound of joyous greeting, I met another groups of friends who had not forgotten me in my long absence, these being of the gentler sex.
One in particular remembered me more fondly than all the rest. I shared that night with her, and shared other things that I had shared with almost no one else. I even shared things with her to a magnitude that I had shared with no one else. It was one of the greatest nights of my life, and I related as much to her as we watched the sun come up through the country air the next morning.
Between kisses and laughter, she shared with me the tattoo on her ankle, not much older than the one I wore between my shoulder blades, but of a decidedly different image.
It was a four-leaf clover.
A week later we met again, for the third time in years (including the magical night of our reintroduction at the party my friend brought me to). That night she took me to spend some time by a roaring fire with a group of her friends under another of those summer evening skies that I had found majesty in.
Somewhere in the course of the night, I chanced to walk around a small garage and glance up at the night sky, framed by the shadows of tall elms and firs, and I remembered a summer night long ago, spent somewhere south of where I stood then. I also recalled with a little irony that I had thought that the purity of the contentment I felt that night would elude me for the rest of my days. I smiled as I walked back around the building, stopping when I could view a particular profile lit by the fire, but where that profile could not yet see me.
I remembered that on that night long ago, not long after I had found my first four leaf clover, that I had harbored hope that one day I would feel that impossible sense of peace once again. As I looked at her beauty framed by the fire, so much like the stars framed by the trees, I knew I could never find that feeling again. I smiled because I knew the hope that I had held was still justified, because I had found something even greater.
This knowledge created a warmth too great for me keep to myself, and later that night we shared the intimacy that such warmth demands, and when done with true earnest, creates warmth even more intense. Sleeping at her side with the cool night air bringing starlight through her windows, I felt that things had curiously come full circle. On that night, I was too content to wonder whether the world was full of coincidence guided by human will, or whether there was truly fate entwined with the human condition.
The next morning, when the sun was just beginning to find its pride over the eastern horizon, I sat down after completing the trip home, the scent of her still floating about my mind. I picked up the library book I had yet to begin, and decided that this morning was a fine time to begin a new story.
As I opened the pages, something threatened to fall out, and I quickly shut the book in an attempt to catch it before it fell to the dusty ground. When I looked at the fragile, dried stem hanging out of the closed tale, I wondered who would have pressed something in a borrowed book, and then forgotten about it, especially something so precious and rare as what I beheld when I followed the dangling stem to the slighty faded, yet still soft green leaves that sprouted from it.
The four slightly faded, yet still soft green leaves that sprouted from it.
I looked to the sun growing stronger in the sky before me, and thought that it might very well be laughing at me, as if I had just stumbled upon something that it had known long ago. I looked towards its shinning glory and thought that perhaps the moon of those night skies I had found redemption in had been laughing at me too, knowing full well the same secret that the sun it chased through the heavens each day was mocking me for on that morning.
I hung my head and stared at the magic leaves hanging from my book, and wondered if I would ever unlock the riddle that those celestial bodies must know so well.
I found a chipped clover.
I found bliss in a solitary summer moment.
I met a girl and found bliss again, on a summer night years later.
A clover, full, but faded, found me.
(Messages are forwarded by
The Preservation Foundation.
So, when you write to an author, please type his/her name
in the subject line of the message.)
Michael's Story List And Biography