The ring tumbled between her fingers as she shuffled and rolled it from the top of her hands down to her pinkies. It rolled and sparkled, the tall center diamond catching the late afternoon sunlight and reflecting a prism of colors and rainbows across her skin. The band was made of brushed gold and had warped and bent over time after years of dish washings and loads of laundry made their way through her mother’s hands.
Catching the band around her fingers as it methodically traveled up and down between her hands, she let her thoughts go and watched as the ring clung and curled around her fingers tips and knuckles. As it made its way to the last of her fingers, she pinched it and slid it down her fourth finger, letting it rest against the middle knuckle.
Sighing, she slowly pushed the ring down over the creased skin of her finger and let it settle at the base. It fit right and looked beautiful, not a bit out of place. The tears began to roll coolly down her cheeks and she stifled a sob.
It wasn’t meant to be. And honestly, she was glad her mother was no longer alive to see her fail. To see the ring go unused.
The silence ripped open as she let out a deep, broken hearted cry. Her face crumpled and she let go everything she had been holding back. Unrelenting, the tears wet her arms and hands as they fell. Her throat began to hurt from the sobs as they wrenched from her body and her limbs began to shake from the exertion of releasing so much pain.
Closing her eyes, she leaned over and fell onto her pillow, the coolness of the cotton soothing against her wet, flushed cheek. Her deep painful sobs began to subside and soon only the slightest whimper escaped. In the silent cool air of her room, alone with her thoughts, the tears continued to trickle. They streamed down her face, over the valleys of her dimples to create puddles on her pillow.
Any energy she had was gone and she remained in one place, still and listless as the tears collected in pools of deep sadness and grief. Of loss and broken promises. The light began to fade away and soon she was asleep, drain and empty.
Darkness met her groggy eyes as she drifted up from the deepest levels of emotional exhaustion her body was capable of. Lifting her heavy, swollen lids she sat up slowly, feeling hungover and sore. A balloon was filling up the inside of her head and she was unable to move much without feeling achy and ill.
At first, she couldn’t decide if the darkness was because of the swollen state of her eyes. She was groggy and disorientated. Soon, after allowing her mind to recover from her nap, she realized it was dark because the day was over and she had slept for over 3 hours.
Groaning, she flopped back on her bed. So much time had been lost and there was still so much to do around the house. The cleaning and the laundry. Dishes to be put away and a litter box to be emptied.
With a sandbag on her shoulders and a heavy heart, she got up and began her chores. Within an hour, the house was more manageable and the list of to-do was cut in half. The physical pain of her break down had faded, replaced by a deep muscle soreness brought on by scrubbing and vacuuming.
It was cathartic.
Soon her mind was clearer and her heart, though still in pain, was no longer at the forefront of her thoughts. The heart break of her new single status was no longer the first thought in her mind. Instead she focused on the grout between the tile on the floor of the guest bathroom.
It was now well past midnight and the house sparkled with a manic gleam. The house was clean, spotless and her body was exhausted again, this time from the physical exertion of cleaning her home. No tears streamed down her face, instead a salty trickle of sweat glimmered down to her chin.
Taking a look around the sparkling bathroom, she smiled. It was clean, cleansed, unsullied by germs and grime. It felt good to sit and see every surface shimmer back in appreciation of its glowing appearance.
Removing the gloves from her hands, she dabbed at her forehead and reached up to whip back the loose locks of hair curling against her damp skin.
That was when she realized it was gone.
The ring she’d placed so lovingly on her hand was not there. The worn golden band adored by her mother’s engagement diamond was not resting against the webs on either side of her finger. Instead her skin was bare, vulnerable and naked.
A gasp of surprise and fear forced its way from her throat as she frantically scanned the bathroom and the glove she was wearing. Where had it gone? How had she not noticed?
In her haste to forget her broken heart, she had scoured her home from top to bottom and not once in the hours of sweat and tears had she realized the ring was missing.
Soon her cleaned and beautiful home was strewn with papers and towels. Trash bins were emptied and searched. Dishes once put away were now pulled from cabinets and stacked precariously around the kitchen sink. She canvased every room and left nothing unchecked.
The ring was gone.
Standing in her bathroom, hands clutching the sink, she felt her body give way to another attack of gut wrenching panic. It was gone. Gone from her finger and no where to be found.
She dipped her head and waited for the tears but they didn’t come. She had cried herself dry and now all that was left was the empty echoing of her listless sobs. Her head drooped and she closed her eyes. Today was not turning out to be salvageable at all. Her heart had been broken and now her mother’s engagement ring was gone.
Opening her eyes she sighed. There was nothing else she could think of. And that’s when it hit her. She gasped and swallowed hard, staring down at her sink. The drain cover was missing. And in its place was a gaping black hole.
The panic rose in her throat and soon she was gulping for air has she emptied the cabinet beneath the sink. Her thoughts were set and firm, she would find that ring even if it meant pulling apart the sink piece by piece.
So much had been lost already.
But the ring would not be one of them.