The Ring

An essay by Lisa Jamison

Her finger had not yet turned blue, but the threat was real and it throbbed in a constant, haunting echo saying “lose the ring, lose the ring.”

 

It had lived on her finger some 40 years; while a teenage bride, an overwhelmed mom, a disenchanted wife, an empty nester, a lonely escapee.  She knew early on that the style was not to her taste.  But it was within his means and she felt it was tacky to complain when it represented his hopes.  She wasn’t yet use to considering her own.   The ring had defined her and given her boundaries.  It had been a silent messenger and a symbol of hope.  Now it was strangling the very essence from the object it was suppose to adorn.

The instrument of freedom looked like a torture device and she questioned the safety of her finger, momentarily forgetting the need for its liberation.  “Don’t worry,” said the kindly jeweler who was good at gauging expressions.  “That hand it too beautiful to harm.  It will only take a minute.”  She smiled at him, considered the compliment, then looked at her hand and was grateful for the lie nevertheless.

The cutter clamped on, biting only with pressure as the wheel began to slowly grind.  “Lose the ring” Tiny flakes of gold appeared on her palm.  They caught the light and her attention.  She watched the destruction of the ring with an amazing lack of emotion.  While the ring was intact, there was an unspoken assumption of permanence, a sacred symbol and unquestioned loyalty.  Ignored was the tingling and blanching from a steady, gradual constriction.  The usefulness and dexterity diminished as inflammation became a constant, but the status quo was maintained as far as anyone else could see.

With each gram of gold dust freed, a sharp edge emerged where the whole was once united.  “Now you must be very still” said the jeweler as he picked up the bending forceps, “This is the tricky part.”  Once the ring was no longer intact any quick movement could bloody her finger.  He clamped the forceps to both ends and pried the ring open.  She felt an immediate rush of circulation and release of long applied pressure.  How odd it felt to be without it and yet how right.  The ring now lay on the counter, gnarled and ruined.  He placed it in an envelope and tipped her hand to let the fragments fall with it.  She took it from him, licked the glue and sealed it tight.

After their goodbyes, she stepped onto the sidewalk.  The sun was bright and glaring so she raised her hand to protect her eyes and caught sight of her lifeline, still littered with golden flecks.  She opened her palm then fully raised her hand to the wind and watched as the last remnants caught the breeze and blew away.