Five years after she left, he rediscovered his ring in a small jewelry box amidst tie tacks and cufflinks he never wore, in a dark and dusty corner of the bathroom closet. He turned it over in his hand curiously, as if he’d never seen it before, put it in his pocket and drove down to Cashville, where he gave it to a disheveled clerk who weighed it, punched numbers into a calculator, and fished out a hundred dollar bill for his troubles.
“I’d pay you twice that to take it off my hands,” the man said joking. He felt odd selling the ring, although he could see no reason for keeping it.
“We get a lot of that,” the clerk said, deadpan.
Maybe somewhere someone kept souvenirs of car accidents or train wrecks. But, he was already feeling a little lighter, bad karma shed like ballast thrown overboard in a storm.
“It’s funny how the things you have the hardest time parting with are often the things you need the least.”
Bob Dylan sang the words, ironically over the tiny speakers, cutting through the shop like a sage. The deal was sealed when the proprietor dropped the ring into a glass jar where it made a tiny clink, resting among a bed of gold promises, some false, others true. In some, there was young love gone awry; in others, old couples going the distance. Most, like the man and his wife, had run the race for a while, but fell short, without enough caring, listening, or luck to make it. Yes, the man thought, in reality, their love had been like most others.
The door swung open behind him and a mother and her daughter crept past, cat-like, with fixed eyes that landed on the opposite wall which was, lined with guitars, mandolins, and banjos, lost promises of another kind, probably hocked for drugs or a ride back home to where home had once been. The daughter pointed excitedly and the mother shushed her. The man turned his attention from the jar to their faces, which likely had no idea what was before them. Sometimes it’s a struggle to be free, he thought, but he had quit being sad a long time ago. After all, it was early on a Saturday, and outside the sun was shining like a promise.