Open Ended

At the last minute, Marne took off her wedding ring and left it behind. She couldn’t bear the thought of people noticing the ring, noticing that a husband wasn’t along with her on the trip and asking about him, or not asking and just looking at her with pity or accusations or both.

Of course she’d arrived at the justification for removing her ring much later. The moment she removed the ring her mind had been completely blank, the idea spontaneous.

The taxi had been waiting for her at the curb, and she’d remembered she’d wanted to leave her apartment key with her landlord.

“One moment,” she had said to the cabbie as he put her suitcase into the trunk. “I forgot something.”

She walked up the steps of her apartment one last time, and felt in her pocket for her key. She thought of kissing the key goodbye—a silly gesture to be sure—and felt self-conscious even though the cabbie wasn’t paying the least bit of attention and no one else was around. So she kissed it, and the moment her lips touched the key, she felt her wedding ring brush against her cheek.

Her husband’s prognosis had been terminal from the start, yet he’d lingered almost two years, and during those two years, Marne gave everything away, sold the house, and rented an apartment near the University of Minnesota hospital, furnishing it sparely. She told herself she was in limbo during Terrance’s illness, and this was why she hadn’t bothered decorating the place. But after he died and was buried, she’d immediately bought herself the open train ticket, planning to depart within the week. Any thought of decorating the apartment was on hold for the foreseeable future.

She dropped the key into her landlord’s mailbox, and on impulse, she removed her wedding ring, dropping it in her own mailbox with little thought, no regret. The post office was holding her mail, so the ring would lie entombed inside her mailbox until she returned. When that would be, she didn’t know.


The start of a new story. Always fun.