A Reversal of Fortune?

Author’s Note: I’d written this originally intending to submit it for a contest; however, there was a charge, it was winter, electricity was up… you get the picture. So I’ll just share it here. In a way, it’s a tribute to the veracity of hindsight and the drive to survive (if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know what I mean 🙂  ). {Translated: should have returned the first ring, should have run, should have… }

The crimson stain lubricated the slide of Judith’s thumb across her fingertips. She sighed, something in her memory rattled about evil riding the wings of a thumb prick. The yellow rose she rolled in her hand was already wilting, fading like dinner the previous night.

In a way the night was glorious. RJ had taken her to the fancy restaurant on a hill overlooking the river running through the state capital. He’d splurged for the most expensive wine, the violin soloist, and filet mignon. Toward the end of the night, RJ slid his chair over by hers, fell to one knee, and handed her the yellow rose. He’d used carpenter twine around the stem to dangle a diamond solitaire with a cheesy PostIt note attached, “Will you marry me?”

In another way, it was almost laughable, really, the juxtaposition of the solitaire with a PostIt note. It was as jumbled as her life. She was a gifted pianist who paid for her art by serving as receptionist for an ambulance chasing malpractice lawyer; her boss never liked her music, and she never liked her job. She felt older than her friends, already bouncing first (and second and third) babies.

She’d evidently agreed, or the ring wouldn’t be on her finger. But with the thumb prick, Judith wondered if she’d made the right move. They’d only known each other a year. She still didn’t know what RJ did for a living. She’d certainly never even been to his apartment, even after her yes.

The ring felt heavier and heavier as her right fingertips twisted and twirled the ring around her left ring finger. Ring around the rosy…

RJ always had the most romantic dates. They’d done Shakespeare in the dark, they went ice skating at the old mill just before spring, he took her to New York to see the opera, and he’d even taken her on a scavenger hunt picnic.

Yet, he was too distant, too emotionally unavailable, too mysterious. She started to think that maybe she had made a mistake. She slipped the ring off her finger, placed it on the dresser top, and glanced at her phone across the room. She gnawed her lower lip, like she’d always done when coming to a decision she had to make yet knew she’d live to always second guess.

Feeling the familiar nausea with the slow burn rising in her gullet, she took the longest walk across the room and picked up the phone. Four rings later, she’d landed in RJ’s voice mail: “Love, let’s talk. Last night was so fast, too fast. Call me when you can.”


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