S.S. Mandani

The portal appeared on the day we stopped eating meat. Wrapping our fifth fingers together in a pinky promise—the first time we ever did—it whirlpooled into existence in our studio apartment “living room.” We used the only measuring tape we would ever own. Exactly fifteen inches in diameter, the portal was fit for diving.

Our pinkies clasped together unlocking spacetime was impressive. We called our couple friends down the block to gloat, asking them to pinky promise, waiting to hear a gasp. Nope, still just Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in the background. We had the only magical pinkies in town.

The portal was tranquil. Should we have let it be? Would have made for good conversation at next week’s dinner party.

We locked eyes, deciding we really were in love, and that forever could work. Us, together. From studio to duplex. Four-bedroom house upstate to vineyard up-upstate. To gated community in Florida (mistake). To, in our twilight, a beach house out west (yippee).

The portal only asked, in its own way, that we make good on our promise. Leaned in with pinkies gripped and futures brimming, we thought all might appear for us.

Years later, the bovine farm produces milk for the local towns of the Finger Lakes. Our milk is so good coffee shops have requested city deliveries. Why the hassle? Our little operation outside of Skaneateles on the north side of the lake is enough life to keep us busy. We take care of the farm animals—mostly cows, couple chickens, an alarm clock of a rooster—and they give us our livelihood. We never did get to run our own vineyard, but a hop-skip over to Seneca Lake and there they are. In the fall and spring we troll the surface for Atlantic salmon. Last winter we went ice fishing for the first time. Cut a hole in the lake fifteen inches across using an auger and snagged us a bunch of rainbow trout. Their scales glimmered silver-gray, pink, and green against the ice, the colors of our future, making sure we kept somewhat of a promise.

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