Lorus Quartz

It sits in a jewelry box small enough to fit in the top drawer of an old childhood bedroom dresser that has been recently renovated. Underneath the robin's egg plaster is a twenty-year-old brown pushed down like phlegm in one's throat. The three vertical handles now rest at a light pink but ran through phases of silver, rust, and gold alongside my hips and calves. It’s dolled-up now and looks like it belongs in a nurserynot a nineteen-year-old's guest bedroom. I do not expect my childhood dresser to disappear when I return from university for the first time in six months. The disowning of my childhood starts here as it quietly keeps the watch inside a secret. It only gets dusted off once a year when I visit for winter holiday, barely. I roll it around my palms and twist the knobs a bit to see if it will tell time again. The hands don’t move. I nudge the top, tap it with my pointy nails painted red. I flip it over, look at my reflection through the scratches, and try to read the tiny words engraved. No initials, anniversary date, or quotes. Just “water resistant” and “V531-7400” etched in a metallic tombstone.

The watch is worn down from emergency room calls and hospice center clean-ups. It has endured too many soapy-water buckets, blood splatters, and needle injections to make it a family heirloom. I wonder how many wrists it’s wrinkled or if it’s called a time of death. I am not even sure how long it has been around. The timeline of when my Nana bought the watch to when she became a nurse, then to her death is uncertain. There are no hints that can tell me when the watch saw psychiatric wards or smelled the liquid of flu shots. Nothing can tell me if she intended for her granddaughter to be so invested in items she left behind. Would she be disappointed? Was she wearing the watch when she died? These are questions that will stay with me and the watch. 

I’ve tried to find the watch’s production date or location release. In between the company's website and eBay searches, I found that it is a Lorus Quartz, an Australian brand launched in 1982 known for its affordable Seiko and Pulsar watches. There are no American locations and their international network does not include the United States. The closest I can get to a Lorus Quartz is in Canada. I ponder how a small Southern nurse came to possess a foreign watch. I don’t even ask my Mother. She would tell me Nana has never been abroad or lie and say that she has. I imagine she indulged an immigrant patient in a trance to hand over the watch or had a lover from college that sent her sentiments in hopes that she would love him again like when they were young. Maybe, before she had my mom, she impulsively bought a plane ticket to New Zealand while four months pregnant with one suitcase and little cash. I know that her husband in the '80’s was a train conductor. It would be easy to come upon such a watch whilst trading during lunch breaks and waiting on firewood imports. But, there is no way I will know. And I am left to build my own truth about her from old stories and stereotypes. 

I don’t have anything to remember about my Nana. She died when I was two and from what my family has told me, I have her babydoll lips and pageant-trained posture. Sometime in the '20’s, she won Miss South Carolina and accepted her award in a small airplane.  Apparently, I was very loved by her. “Hawaiian Princess!” she would call me while I ran in her backyard, and every afternoon after daycare, there would be peanut butter and jelly waiting for me. She was demanding, loving, and a witch. A full doesn’t smile in photographs, wears purple shawls, and chooses to curse over kindness, witch. My mother told me that once, they got stuck upside down on a carnival ride together and that Nana complained so much that she got free access to the local opera for two months. This is all I have. This, and the watch. 

By Breia Gore


  1. u never fail!!! i'm always so excited for your pieces

  2. there's so much love, sentimentality, and mystery woven into one piece, it's beautiful.