Word Count 500
by G. Ackman
Hunched over on the swing, Hannah’s hand clenched a dirt-encrusted ring she had found while digging in the garden. The harsh words she had flung at Andrew replayed in her mind. “You just don’t care” she had accused. “Sometimes I hate you” as he stormed out the door, flinging a “And you’re just selfish” back at her, causing the door to jump in its frame and a vase to shatter on the floor. For the past week they had been civilly cool towards each other. He had lost his wedding ring while on a fishing trip, and Hannah had been furious at his not valuing their marriage.
Hannah vowed to return this ring to its rightful finger. Thankful that she didn’t live back when a person had to look through pages of tax records, Hannah’s internet search located the previous two owners of the property. That took it back more than sixty years. The first name was a bust. They only lived there two years and the frazzle-haired woman with a toddler on one hip and another at her feet responded harshly that she was “divorced and glad of it.” That left the other owners – Harold and Betty Vandament. It took a few tries and some awkward phone calls to locate Betty in a nursing home forty miles away. Hannah went to visit on her next day off, expecting awful smells, hunched over old ladies in wheelchairs, and harried, uncaring staff. Instead Hannah saw a clean, well-lit room with an antiseptic, but not unpleasant smell. Smiling staff looked the elderly patients right in the eye and talked to them gently. One guided her to Betty’s door. At Hannah’s knock, a frail voice wavered “come in.” Hannah introduced herself as the new owner of the Bridgeport house, and was rewarded with a genuine smile. Without any explanation, Hannah opened her hand and displayed the ring, now clean and shiny. Betty’s shaky hands reached for it. “Wherever did you find that?”
“In the garden.”
“Heavens to betsy, I never figured on seeing this again.”
Hannah felt pride in restoring a lost treasure. “Oh, honey, it didn’t bother me overmuch when I lost it.”
“It didn’t? – but it was your wedding ring.”
“I lost Harold eight years ago now.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Is the ring a painful reminder?”
Betty chuckled. “No, it isn’t that. We had a good marriage. Oh, there were days I couldn’t stand the sight of him and for a dollar, would have planted him in that garden. But then there were days…..” As her mind visited the past, the wrinkles fell from her face and the shakiness from her hands. She was a young bride again. She reached over and closed Hannah’s hand around the ring. “You keep it.”
“Oh, I couldn’t – it’s your wedding ring.”
“No, honey, it’s a piece of jewelry. My marriage is in my heart. Always was. Still is.
Losing that ring or my husband doesn’t change that.”
Hannah went home and hugged Andrew close.