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 after the accident, and during those two years, Lydia gave everything away, sold the house, and rented an apartment near the hospital, furnishing it sparely. She told herself she was in limbo during Terrance’s long and slow decline, 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.
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 until she returned. When that would be, she didn’t know.
Excerpt from “Open Ended”, now appearing in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Find it in bookstores everywhere.