The Ring

ringMaddie eyed the ring that sat upon the kitchen table.   Sunlight glanced off the large blue diamond and lit up the stones that encircled it, sending tiny rainbows dancing across the room.

“Go on, try it on,” I said.

Her eyes, brilliant and blue as the stone at the center of the ring, widened in disbelief.

“But its special,” she whispered, looking directly at me as if I’d both lost my mind and granted her greatest wish all at once.

I picked it up and handed it to her.

“It’s a ring, isn’t it?  Rings are meant for wearing.  They’re meant to sit upon our fingers where our eyes can notice them all day long, where they can remind us of things and make us smile. ”

She slid the ring on her fourth finger and pressed it tightly against her pinky to keep it in place, much too large for her tiny five-year-old hand.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, holding her hand out in front of her and squinting her eyes to inspect the sparkle.

As I sat there, watching my daughter experience its beauty, my mind drifted back to the first time I saw the ring.  I wasn’t much older than she is now.  My mother had taken me along to the bank for the annual inspection.   Like Maddie, I regarded the ring with awe.  As she pulled it from the darkness of the safety deposit box, my mother held it out and let me try it on.  It was special, she told me… too special to wear.  The box was where it belonged, for safekeeping, and someday it would belong to me.  I wondered why anyone would go to such trouble and make something so beautiful to keep in a box.

My mother had many things she kept in special boxes, up on high closet shelves, and in dresser drawers lined with softly scented tissue paper.  Whenever I presented her with a masterpiece of crayon or glitter and glue it went straight into the keepsake chest at the foot of her bed.  I’ll never know if she looked at them.   I never once saw her wear the silky turquoise gown with buttons down the back that my father had presented to her on their 20th wedding anniversary.  She loved it, though…I could tell by the look in her eyes when she opened it, the same look she got whenever she came across it at the back of the closet where it hung, covered in plastic, waiting for an occasion special enough to wear it.

“Where’d you get it?” Maddie asked, bringing me back to this moment with her.

“It was Grandma’s ring, Sweetie.”

“Oh.” She hesitated then raised her eyes to mine and asked me quietly if it made me sad to look at it.  The simple question opened a door that I’d held closed for a long time, and I thought carefully about my answer.

“No,” I said.  “It reminds me to appreciate.”

“Appreciate what?”

“You!” I said, tickling the side of her neck and making her laugh and tuck her head.  “You, and Daddy, and the color blue, and pretty things, and happy days, and stuff like that.”

Seemingly satisfied with my answer, Maddie took the last bite of her sandwich and went back to her drawing.  She hummed quietly to herself while she worked, pausing to search through the crayons scattered across the table for a particular color, settling on Azure Blue.

“My turn,” I said.  And I slipped the ring from her little finger and placed in on my own.  It split the sunlight and shot rainbows across the kitchen as my hands, wet and soapy, made quick work of our lunch plates.  As I dried them, Maddie put the finishing touches on her drawing, fastened it to the refrigerator with a magnet, then stood back to admire her work.

“Beautiful!” I said, putting the last of the dishes away.  “Now let’s go feed the chickens.”


© Kelly Rainey and 500wordsandcounting.wordpress.com, 2015.  

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12 thoughts on “The Ring

    1. Thanks! I struggle with not driving my points home a little too hard…I’m working on it! Learning to trust my readers to get there on their own is something I very much want to improve upon. Thanks so much for the feedback!

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  1. The moment that nabbed me was when she did the dishes with the ring on after so much time saying how special it was. There’s an entire story hiding in that moment. I’m not sure what it means (yet) but I’m sure you had her do that for a reason.

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    1. Absolutely! I needed a subtle way to show she didn’t share her mother’s ideas about how to appreciate things. Unlike her mother, special things aren’t held aside for “some day” but incorporated into everyday life. It was simply too cliche to talk about using the good china…why not wear the blue diamond when doing the dishes and feeding the chickens? And while her own childhood artwork was made special by going straight into the keepsake chest, clearly her own daughter’s creations are regularly put up on display on the frig. I love that “special” to her means its worthy of a place in her day to day life. I wanted to get all that across without having her directly bash her mother…we don’t know for sure how she feels about her mother’s way…simply that she does not personally share it. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts…as always, feedback means a lot to me!

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  2. You’ve really captured a special moment here. I enjoyed your writing style – really crisp, clear and powerful in a beautifully understated way. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you. Understated is exactly what this needed to be. I could’ve gotten up on my soapbox and written an essay about using the good china and appreciating every day, but I wanted to try to say it without saying it. And doing that through the mother/daughter connection seemed to work. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to share your feedback.

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    1. Thanks. This time I turned to fiction rather than essay to express a belief I feel strongly about. It was a very different process to temper my feelings and work them into a situation that felt as if it could have been real. I enjoyed the process and I’m so pleased you enjoyed the end result. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

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