chipped emerald in a ring setting

Rebecca Hodge: Wearing that ring

unpublished timed prompt writing

Sharon was wearing that ring, the one with the square-cut emerald and the tiny diamond chips, when the disposal started making one of those heart-stopping cachunk cachunk cachunk sounds.

The stainless steel sink vibrated with the energy of the straining motor, and the faucet trembled, sending shivers down into the stream of water. Sharon said “What the fuck,” and she flipped off the disposal, reached into the drain, and fumbled a bit, extracting a battered fork that had wedged itself crosswise in the blade. She turned the disposal back on, and this time it quietly went kachink, kachink a few times, before settling down to run smoothly.

She tossed a few more scraps into the disposal, listened to them disintegrate with no problem, ran a couple of gallons of water as she rinsed the last few pots, and then, only then, she realized that her ring was gone.

She thought of the traitorous kachink, and she knew with certainty it was hopeless. Oh, she went through the motions. Fished around in the drain for an endless spell, filling her fingernails with tarry black crud. Paid the emergency fee for a plumber to come straight out. They poured all the water from the trap through a strainer, found one bit of the platinum setting with two diamond chips in it, but that was all.

She hated that ring. Her father had given it to her mother sixty years in the tear-stained past, and it was of that time and of that place, of her mother’s taste. It wasn’t Sharon. She wasn’t into precious metals and precious stones, and the effort of keeping track of something that was probably worth more than her dented-up Mazda frayed her nerves. But when she’d gone home to her mother’s funeral ten years back, her dad took her by the hand and slipped the ring onto her middle finger. “It’s yours now. You don’t have to wear it, but I like knowing that you have it.”

The fact he presented it that way made all the difference—adorning her hand, sliding her finger carefully into the smooth band, his hand trembling slightly as it held hers. It was only a stone, just a pretty green rock with a bit of metal attached. Nothing she would look at twice in a jewelry case; nothing she would buy for herself. She hadn’t intended to wear it, but she did. Every day.

A piece of her mother, a piece of her dad, twinkling from her hand each time the facets shifted in the light. Sharon traced the empty skin at the base of her finger. Her hand was suddenly too light, gravity too diminished.