birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Pinky Swear

Ask me to keep a secret, and I will. Confide a confidence and ask me not to repeat it, and I will keep my silence. Although I do gossip, if I am asked not to repeat something, I will not repeat it.

Even as a preteen, when the pinky swear was in vogue, I would keep a confidence if asked to do so. At that point in my life, the pinky swear was a life-or-death, step-on-a-crack-break-your-mama's-back means of securing a promise from a friend. If I had pinky sworn not to reveal that Sarah Jane had a crush on Paul, then I would keep the confidence. Most of the time.

Had I known that the innocent-seeming pinky swear could mean serious physical consequences in other times and places, then I might have thought more seriously about making the pinky swear promise.
It turns out that the pinky swear, which I thought had originated in my home town, is actually more than a century old and that it has roots extending around the world. And in other countries the pinky swear has serious physical consequences if the promise were to be broken.

In Japan making a pinky swear means that if you break the promise, you pledge to cut off your pinky finger. Called yubikiri, meaning finger cut off, it is based on a belief that a red string of fate attaches soulmates by their pinky fingers.

After yesterday's down pour, I happened to see a bright red spot of something on the sidewalk as I splashed through the puddles. I passed it by and then reversed to see what it was. A red thread! I untangled the thread and then pocketed it, believing it to be a sign.

At the art camp I am attending this week are many stitching classes, so I realize that this red thread is probably just a snippet from someone's class. Even so, I like to ponder the meaning of this red thread of fate.

Who dropped it? Where might my soulmate be?

How Deep is Your Pledge?

In Sickness and In Health