Sunday, 15 January 2012

I once heard... About the compass that didn't point North

I once heard about a worn down compass that never pointed North.
In fact, where it pointed was relative to whoever held it in their palm.

They say it finally made its way to a small shop that sold pretty much anything and everything from old horseshoes made of "good energy" metal, to toy light sabers, to espresso machines, and even iPods.
It wasn't a very distinctive compass when it came to its appearance, made of cheap metal and plastic, nothing made it stand out. Its skinny needle sat in lightly tinted water that had developed a couple of air bubbles over time (something that had caused many a potential buyer to put it back with a grunt) and its dial was very simple, no ornamentation or decorative nature to it at all.

It really was a pretty basic, mundane compass. Except for the fact of course that it never pointed North.
No one really knew where it pointed, since it would change its direction depending on who held it, its needle teetering one way or the other slightly at ever exchange of hands.
Some blamed the air bubbles that floated around in its water, while others said it must have been put together in some far off country with no quality control, and some even blamed global warming (how this was relevant, no one knew, but there is always someone who blames global warming).

Magnets did not hinder it in any way either. All sorts of magnets were introduced to try and tamper with its curious way-finding to no avail. While other compasses went haywire under the pull of magnetism, this one simply kept pointing wherever it was pointing.

They say that on a dreary day in November, a young woman walked into the shop having passed it many times before, finally surrendering to her curiosity and her bizarre urge to rummage among its knick-knacks.
After picking up a few old movie posters and a piggy bank in the shape of an oversized gummy bear, she spotted the compass lying on a shelf collecting dust.

I heard that as she picked it up in her free hand, its needle spun around frantically for a few seconds before pointing somewhere, nowhere, not North.
They say the shop keeper warned her that it didn't work from behind his wiry spectacles, to which someone overheard her reply, "It has to point somewhere, right?" before making the purchase and leaving.

They say she followed the compass' needle many, many days. Some say it was over the course of a year, others say it was only a month. No one really is certain, and at the end of it all, it really didn't matter. It pointed her to different places and new faces, but always shifting slightly as though its destination had not been discovered. Of course, until she bumped into him.

Being taken by the compass' mystery, it's said she had become focused on its face, and one day while maneuvering her way along the streets of the city, head down (as she now had a habit of doing), bumped into a tall stranger. Apologising under her breath, they both carried on their separate ways, only for her to get an odd feeling, and to hastily notice the compass' needle swerve the complete opposite direction. She paused, slightly baffled, before changing her course which led her to a nearby café.
And in the café the compass led her to a table.
And sitting at the table was the tall stranger, a cup of coffee, and a book.
Not really aware of herself, she set the compass in the centre of the table, and sat across from him.

They say that she didn't need the compass to tell her where to go anymore.
No one knew why the compass had led her this way, no one asked, no one had to.
It was not the force of a magnet, or air bubbles, or global warming.
It was something else, and that was all anybody really knew. Nothing more.

I once heard of a compass that didn't point North but pointed somewhere else.
And of the young woman that wears it around her neck to remind her that she is exactly where she should be.

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