Ring Mystery, a Story by Anna Lippert

Anna Lippert, Creative Writing Student

WRITING PROMPT:  A woman is digging in her backyard flower garden when she finds a gold wedding band.  The initials inside are A. M. W.  Her name is Connie Smith.  Whose ring is it?  How did it get in the flower bed?  What happened?  What is going to happen?

Ah, it’s finally summer. The air still has a bit of a crisp, but I’m impatient. So, I start digging at my flower bed right away, eager to plant my marigolds. I’m mindlessly working away as I’m shout singing to a Harry Styles’s song. I’m sure I look crazy to the neighbors. My tiny shovel hits something, and I scoop it up to take a closer look. “What could this be?” I mumble under my breath.

I rinse off the foreign object with some water and see it’s a shiny, gold wedding ring. I’ve found interesting old things in my flowerbeds before, but this one made me shiver.

My son walked around the house and called for me, “Mom! Can Amanda come over?”

I shove the ring underneath my leg so my son doesn’t see. “I-I’m sorry, honey. Not today. The house is a mess.” This is a complete and utter lie. I know the house has been thoroughly scrubbed with bleach, very recently. 

As my son walks back inside, I pull the ring out again. The initials on the inside, A.M.W, confirm my biggest fear. My head starts whirling with every possibility. How did it get here? 

“Babe, the game is about to start. Didn’t you want to watch it?” Oh no, it’s my husband. He certainly can never see this ring, at least not right now. I stare at him, about to mutter some stupid excuse as to why I need to keep planting flowers, when he says, “Hey you found it!” With a nod to the gold ring peeking out from my hand. 

“Y-yeah. I just found it in the flower beds. What is it?” I say, trying to make my voice sound even, acting as though I don’t know where it came from.

“I went on a walk in the woods behind our house the other day and found it. It must have slipped off someone’s finger. I was going to show you, but I accidentally dropped it and couldn’t find it again,” he says very excitedly, like a pirate who just struck gold.

I look at him in disbelief, but he misreads the expression on my face.

“OH NO! You didn’t think it was the ring of some woman I was cheating on you with or something, did you? Oh God, honey, I would never,” he says very quickly hoping to defuse the situation.

I laugh uncomfortably and respond with, “It may have crossed my mind for a second.” Another total lie. 

“Well,” he says, now clearly uncomfortable with the situation. “You want to come inside?”

“No, I’m okay. I really want to get these flowers planted,” I lie again.

“All right,” he sighs and goes to walk back inside.

I call after him and say, “Wait, honey, I don’t like you in the woods back there. They freak me out.”

He leans down and kisses my head. “All right, I won’t go on walks there anymore.”

He goes around the house again, and I listen closely to hear the door close, and the T.V. start. The second I hear fans cheering, I clasp the ring and my shovel, and make a sprint for the woods.

The way is ingrained in my mind, so I make it there no problem. The ground looks perfectly normal now that the forest has grown over it. So, I make my best guess as to where to dig.

I feel like I’ve been digging for too long, like my husband will realize I’m gone. Just as I’m about to call it quits, a cold, dead hand sticks out of the dirt. I slip the ring on it quickly, and cover her back up. I move fallen leaves and twigs over the freshly dug-up dirt, so no one will look twice. 

I stand over the spot, and for my own closure I say, “Not today, Adaline May White. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. I warned you about what would happen if you lied to me again. It’s your fault you didn’t listen.”

I stand up to head back to the house, but first I scan the area. There are getting to be a few too many spots where the earth has had to grow over. I guess it’s time to tell my husband we have to move for work, for the fourth time.

–Anna Lippert