photo by: Steve BraidmanI tell him we should get married next fall. He agrees. I tell him he should email his uncle, the jeweler. He does. I tell myself to stop reading his emails looking for a picture or response from his uncle, the jeweler. I don’t. Finally, after a few days of logging into two email accounts I see that his uncle, the jeweler, has FedExed a package to our address. He tells me that there are samples coming. FedEx comes twice, but we aren’t at home. He won't drive to pick them up. The next day, they are on his dresser. Waiting.
He is away that night. I open the miniature manila envelope. I find three sapphire rings. We had agreed on his blue birthstone.
One ring is thick and gold.
One is thin with a simple lonely oval stone.
One is thick with intricate carvings, six small diamonds, and one large dark sapphire.
I don’t really like any of them, but I try to wear all three. Give them each a second chance. I think I like the intricately woven ring. I think it’s too small. It should fit. He told his uncle, the jeweler, I am a size eight. I get it over the knuckle, barely. With earnest and flushed-faced panic, I free my finger. Never again. The rings go back. Back into each zip lock bag. Back into the miniature manila. Back.
“Did you get them yet?”
“What is this? Are these the rings?”
I lie again pointing.
He jumps toward me. Takes them. Pockets them. I tell him he shouldn’t leave them out because I could find them. He tells me not to snoop. The next day I do. I snoop. He is at work and I want to see the rings. I take each out and wonder which he has chosen. He has chosen one. The uncle, his jeweler, sent only three. There is not a perfect ring hiding anywhere else. I have looked. I think he has chosen the intricately woven ring. I agree that it has all the qualities I asked for. It is still too small.
“I’ll bet it’s too small.”
“I’ll close my eyes and you can put it on and if it is too small you can mail it back to be re sized.”
He won’t. He says he is not going to ask me until after Saturday. Saturday is his brother’s wedding. I complain. I can’t lie until Saturday. I can’t wait. I am angry. He is patient. He is right. The next day I put on the ring for the last time before he will ask me. Over the knuckle and it is stuck.
The ring is off.
My heart pounds.
The swollen finger throbs.
That night after he leaves I convince myself again. I want to see how it looks when I type. Stand before the mirror. Casually hold my hand to my face.
I go to remove it. I go again.
Twist and pull.
Twist and pull.
Soap. Cold water.
Twist and pull.
My brother and sisters call to me from the other room.
“I’m doing work.”
I call back.
This is work. The finger is red and has expanded out and over. This is not going to come off. He will be home in two hours. I have two hours. I am alone one more hour before I emerge. Looking for help.
“I can’t get it off...I found it and wanted to see what would look like on.”
My sister laughs. She laughs hard. She calls in my older sister. Who laughs harder. I laugh. I confess to my brother. He is disappointed. This is not going to come off. My brother does research.
Raise my hand above my head.
Ten minutes, no less.
Pull and twist.
Repeat until you want to kill yourself.
We find no remedies. I call him.
“I’ll be home in a minute.”
I cry. Hard. My little sister is no longer laughing. She oils, pulls and twists. I pull away and put my hand in a large cup of ice water. I am wet from my recommended cold shower. I am considering the hospital. I am afraid this will be the last awful thing I do to him. He is home. My sisters run away. My brother pats his shoulder. I cry. My tears fall between my legs. My hand is still in the over-sized orange cup. He looks at me then looks at the opened miniature manila. He smiles, shakes his head and walks away.
I am not only sorry that I was found left-handed. I am sorry to have replaced potential romance with selfish impatience.
“I can’t get it off. I’m sorry.”
I do not get it off. For two days I wear it and it tortures my finger. Punishment. After these two days, we go to the emergency room. I tell the nurse and he laughs. He cuts the ring and shakes his head.
“Couple more days…”
Couple more days and only nine fingers would be holding my flower bouquet next October.
The ring is FedExed again. Saturday before the wedding he gives me the mended ring from his uncle, the jeweler. He doesn’t get on one knee. He doesn’t ask me anything but:
“Do you want to wear it?”
The blue sapphire matches my blue dress.
The once broken 6 ½ sized ring now fits my still slightly swollen size 8 finger. At the wedding, the story makes the room, but we do not allow it to become a distraction. We dance like no one knows. We laugh because everyone knows.
“I’m sorry I didn’t ask you for your daughter’s hand in marriage, but she proposed to herself.”