Ring. Short Story.

She stared at the ring, turning it slowly in her fingers, watching as the light glinted off the surface. Her mind was racing, what the hell should she do? This was insane. She placed it gently on the bed, then looked at the box, it was small, black, unassuming. This was terrible. She picked up the ring again, looking inside the band, at the inscription. “with all my love.” This was just like him. Who does something like this these days? They had never even broached the subject of marriage, they had only been going out for just under two years. What was he thinking? She put the ring into the box and closed it. She looked around guiltily before placing it back underneath the bed, roughly where she found it. Nearby was the hair brush. She picked it up and started brushing her hair furiously. Why did she have to drop the brush? Why did he have to leave it somewhere so stupid? She froze. When was he going to ask her? They were going out to dinner next week, was he planning on doing it then? On their two year anniversary? She started brushing again, slowly. Christ. What would she say? What could she say? It better not be in front of everyone. She couldn’t do that to him. She wasn’t ready for marriage, she wasn’t ready for any of it. She’d maybe try to bring it up somehow, say she found something interesting under the bed. Maybe leave it on his nightstand and say it must have fallen? Was that too weird? She looked in the mirror, her eyes were wide, scared. Shit. She was still running late. She ran the brush through a few more times then put it on the vanity. Close enough. She went down the stairs two at a time. No time for breakfast now, the ring had taken up almost ten minutes. Shit. She grabbed an apple and her car keys before she ran out the door.

She felt jittery on the way to work, expectant. The traffic was still heavy despite the time and the radio was nothing but talk shows. They had always bored her but now it seemed far, far worse. She didn’t want to think about this, about anything. She just wanted to get to work and forget about it.

She was at her desk by half nine, no one seemed to notice that she was running late, normally she’d have called, asked someone to cover her for a bit, but she had completely forgotten. Still. She was here and there was no problem. If you weren’t called out on being late within ten minutes of entering the building, you were safe for the day. That was how it always worked. The day passed slowly but all too quickly and before she knew it, it was lunch. As always, she ate it with Tim and Stephanie and, after a brief internal debate she told them what she found. Both were shocked, but Stephanie was thrilled, already trying to help with planning. She shut that line of thought down quickly. Hell she didn’t know if she was going to say yes or not. He hadn’t even asked her yet. Still, it was good to talk about it. She swore them both to secrecy though it wasn’t really that necessary. Neither were gossipy. Still, just in case one let it slip accidentally, or thought it would be ok to mention it to someone.

She was home before Mark, as usual, and decided that she should just keep things normal. After all, it might not be so bad. Getting married. Hell, it probably would have happened anyway. She was surprised to find herself looking forward to it, she wondered how he’d do it. It wouldn’t be in the restaurant, that wasn’t his style. Dinner was simple, spaghetti Bolognese, it was always so easy to make. Mark came in while she was cooking, he didn’t call out to her as usual, he went upstairs, completely ignoring her. As she finished cooking she wondered what was wrong. After putting the spaghetti onto plates, she called out to him, but there was no response. Sighing, she went upstairs. “Hey, everything ok?” “What?” she went into their room, he was searching through his jean pockets. “I asked if there was anything wrong?” “No.” He continued to search. “Are you sure?” “Yeah…no…fuck. Ok, I’m not supposed to tell you this, but right now I’m freaking the fuck out. Tony is gonna propose to Miranda, he asked me to get the ring engraved because he was too busy, I’ve only gone and lost the fucking thing.” Shit. Ok. Play it cool. “I’ll help you look. What does it look like?” “It was in a box, black. I thought I had it this morning, I was supposed to give it to him tonight. Shit. Fuck.” “Ok, calm down, breathe. I’ll give you a hand looking for it, we’ll find it in no time.” She went over to the nightstand and opened the drawer, she didn’t want to get it too quick. She searched a few other places before looking under the bed. “I’ve found it! Must have fallen out of your pocket.” She handed it to him, he hugged her, “You’re a life saver.” “No bother.” she felt her cheeks turning bright red. How could she have been so stupid? “I’m gonna go over to him now, do you want to come for the drive?” “Nah, I’ll stay here.” “Do you want anything while I’m out?” “Maybe pick up a few sweets in the shop? We can have some wine and watch a movie.” “Cool.” he kissed her, “I’ll be back in a bit.”

She put the plates into the oven, she could heat it when Mark got back. She wasn’t too hungry anymore. God how embarrassing. Well, everyone would get a good laugh out of it. She’d probably tell Mark eventually. The poor guy, what if he had asked her in public? She probably would have just fled or something equally ridiculous. She shook her head, well, at least she knew now. It was better really, that she wouldn’t have to wait. The doorbell rang. She didn’t really want to deal with people. No one was expected, it was probably someone selling something. The doorbell rang again. She sighed, Fine.

It was Tim. “Oh…Hey.” He smiled at her, “Sorry, I know it’s short notice, can I come in for a sec?” “Uh, sure, yeah. Mark’s just popped out for a few minutes. Oh. You’re never gonna believe this.” She stepped aside, letting him in. “You know that ring I found?” Something covered her face, thick and heavy, a smell of something, strong and overwhelming.

She woke up, groggy and disorientated. There were bright flashes of light, noise, faint rumbling. “Oh. Good you’re up. I didn’t want to do it this way.” She tried to move, her wrists and legs were bound. “Don’t worry though, we’ll be away soon enough.” “What?” That one word, slurred, a challenge to get out. “I just couldn’t let you go through with it. The biggest mistake of your life.” “I-” “It’s ok. I forgive you. I know you didn’t really want to be with him, that you just didn’t know how to get out of it all. But it’s ok, you’re free now. Just relax and go back to sleep ok? We’ll be there soon. Then we can start our life together.” He reached over, the cloth again, she shook her head, trying to stop it, too late, darkness.

Mark went into the house, carrying a plastic bag. He probably went a bit over the top with buying stuff, still. They’d have a nice night together. He went into the kitchen and put the bag on the counter. There was a note. He picked it up and read it, feeling sick, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this anymore.” He sat down heavily. There had been nothing to suggest she wasn’t happy. Was that why she had him stop at the shops? Give herself more time to leave? He went upstairs, her suitcase was gone and some of her clothes. He couldn’t believe it, why would she do this to him? He sat down on the bed. He had thought they were happy.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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