Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Through the Open Window is at the Library!

Back when Through the Open Window came out, I sent copies to both the East Longmeadow and Springfield (MA) Main Library. The East Longmeadow library plays a prominent role in the story and the main characters also take a visit to the Springfield Quadrangle (of which the Springfield Library is a part). I had checked a while later and the book wasn't listed in the on-line catalog so I figured both libraries had simply given the book away. I hoped they found a good home.

Fast-forward three years. Just for fun, I plugged my name into the Cwmars catalog and lo and behold, there it was at the Springfield Library. Of course, I needed to go take a trip to visit my book. I may never see one of my books in a bookstore, but I got to see one at a library! I even checked it out! (I plan to bring it back tomorrow.)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Rose Ring, Chapter Six

Julia entered the nursing home, signed in on the volunteer form, and then, as was her custom, made her way to the chapel on the first floor. Ever since she had started volunteering there several years earlier, she had made a habit of stopping by to pay a short visit before embarking on her visits. Part of it was upbringing. Her mother took her to visits to Church all the time when she was little. They would go, spend a few minutes, light a candle and pray. She had always loved the quiet and peace she had found in those moments.
Part of it was fear. She loved to come and visit the residents, read to them, and listen to their stories. It gave her life a small sense of purpose and she was happy to help, but it took all of her courage to walk into those rooms. As she herself aged, she found it even harder. No longer was she an indestructible young woman. Well into her thirties, she knew that the years passed by like a speeding train and that this was what life might hold for you as you headed for your final destination. In the resident’s faces, she saw her own future. Time passed quickly and it scared her to death.
And so, she sat in the quiet and prayed for the strength to help bring some comfort to those who were lonely and suffering. She then picked up her stack of books and climbed the stairs to the third floor.
At the top of the stairs, she punched in the security code, unlocking the door, and entered the dementia ward. This was the hardest floor to visit, but Sr. Elaine, the volunteer coordinator, had assigned her one resident up here to visit with.
Julia rushed through the entry room. A few residents sat near the nurse’s station. Some stared into space. Others cried out to her, thinking her some long-lost friend or relative coming to visit. She kept her head down, avoiding eye contact. She never knew how to respond.
“Good evening, Julia.” Charlie, the nurse on duty, greeted her in his polite southern drawl. “How nice of you to join us this evening.”
“How are you doing tonight?”
“Can’t complain,” he smiled. “It’s a beautiful day and praise the Lord, I’m here to see it.”
“I don’t know how you do it. Every time I see you, you’re always so happy.” She looked around at the residents. “I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
“God’s in his heaven. What do I have to be sad about? My being sad isn’t going to help these people any.” Charlie radiated joy. Julia couldn’t help but smile.
“Going to see Miss Jennie?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.”
“She’ll be happy to see you. It’s the highlight of her day when you come.”
“That’s good to hear.”
Jennie, short for Eugenie, had been a stage actress when she was young. She had a  special love of English literature. It was for this reason that Sr. Elaine felt that Julia would be the perfect volunteer to visit with her.  Jennie never said much, nor did she remember Julia from visit to visit, but twice a week she would come and introduce herself and read to her from Jane Austen or Shakespeare and Jennie would close her eyes and smile and sometimes say the lines she had long ago memorized out loud, accompanying Julia while she read.
They were currently making their way through Sense and Sensibility. Julia was more than happy to spend some time reading about the plight of the Dashwood sisters. After reading for almost an hour, Julia wrapped up chapter eight and closed the book.
“That’s all we have time for this evening. I’ll see you on Thursday.”
“Oh, yes, dear, that would be nice.”
As Julia exited the room, she looked back and saw Jennie staring out the window at the evening sky. Julia walked with a purposeful stride toward the exit.
“See you next time,” Charlie beamed at her.
“Not if I see you first,” Julia said. Charlie laughed.
She was almost to the door when a hand reached out and grabbed her right arm.
“Where did you get my ring?”
Julia tried to release her arm to no avail. She looked up into the dark eyes of the white-haired woman who had latched onto her with a force completely incompatible with her frail appearance.
“I asked you, where did you get that ring?”
“It was my grandmother’s,” Julia stammered.
“No, it most certainly was not. It is mine. Joe gave me that ring.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you are talking about.” She still couldn’t loosen the woman’s grip on her arm.
“Miss Elizabeth, you need to calm down.” Julia was so relieved to hear Charlie’s voice. “Let go of her arm.”
“But, she stole my ring.”
“No, she didn’t. It’s her ring. Please let her go.”
Julia relaxed as Elizabeth released her powerful grip.
“My Joe gave me that ring. He’s going to come back for me,” she insisted.
“I’m sorry,” Julia said as she started slowly backing up.
When she felt she was at a safe distance, she spoke to Charlie.
“Thank you. I didn’t know what to do.”
“Is your arm alright? It looked like she was squeezing mighty tight.”
Julia rubbed it. “Yeah, it will be fine.” She looked over at Elizabeth, who was sobbing with her head in her hands. “Will she be okay?”
“She’ll be fine. Her anger has passed. She’s just sad now.”
“I feel so bad. I didn’t mean to upset her.” She fingered her ring. “She must have had a ring that looked like this.”
“Don’t worry about it. Tomorrow, she won’t even remember.”
“Somehow, that doesn’t really make it better, does it?”
“No,” Charlie shook his head, “I suppose it doesn’t.”
“Do you know who Joe is?” Julia asked. “Was he her husband?”
“No, I’ve never heard her mention him before. She never married. No family ever comes to see her.” He paused. “No one ever comes to see her.”
“That is so sad.”
“That’s just the way it is – even with the ones who do have families. This floor doesn’t get a whole lot of visitors.”
Julia took a last look at Elizabeth, who was slumped over in her chair, and glanced at her watch. “I need to be going. I’m late for my next visit on the second floor.”
“Let me walk you to the door,” Charlie offered.
Julia nodded and they made their way to the exit. As they walked by Elizabeth, Julia heard her whisper through her tears. “That ring is mine. I don’t know who you are or how you got it, but when the war is over, Joe will come home to me.”



Friday, April 19, 2013

The Rose Ring, Chapter Five

Elizabeth’s Journal

Saturday, May 17, 1941

Today was the day I’ve waited for and worked for so long – my college graduation. As I waited in line with my classmates, donned in my cap and gown, I reflected on the last four years. In some ways, it feels like we were just Freshmen, all nervously getting to know each other at orientation, being subject to the Senior’s pranks, and now, here we were, getting ready to say goodbye and face whatever waits for us outside these walls. I couldn’t help it – the tears started to fall. I was very thankful I had thought to tuck my handkerchief into the sleeve of my dress!

We marched into the auditorium to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” as light filtering through the large stained glass windows danced through the room. I searched the faces for my family. There were so many people packed in the rows, I feared I would never find them, but Daddy’s height was a great blessing and I was able to locate his head in the crowd. He was smiling so proudly when I caught his eye. Mama, too, was smiling, but like me, her cheeks were glistening with tears. I think that this day may have actually meant as much, if not more, to them as it did to me. Even though I came on a scholarship, I know how much they sacrificed to allow me to come here, how much they dreamt of having a child with a college education. I can only hope that someday I can repay them for all that they have done for me.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Maggie stood next to them, looking as if she would rather have been anywhere else. Couldn’t she at least have pretended to have been happy for me? Ah, the pain of being a twelve-year-old girl. I can only hope she recovers from it soon.

I was stewing a bit about Maggie’s attitude, but then I saw him – Joseph was there! He had a big bouquet of yellow roses and mouthed the words “For you” as I walked past. I felt like my legs were going to give out right then and there. He was the last person I expected to see. In fact, I hadn’t seen or talked to him since we had met two weeks ago – a fact that I assure you, had resulted in a completely out-of-proportion amount of emotional turmoil. If only men knew what they did to our hearts, perhaps then they wouldn’t trifle with them so. But in that moment, when I saw him, all was suddenly right with the world, and a day that I didn’t think could become any more perfect suddenly did.

I confess I don’t recall much of anything the speakers said. I should have been paying better attention – after all, this was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, but I am afraid that while my body was firmly planted in row C, seat 14, my mind was most definitely several rows back.

I do remember Msgr. O’Neill announcing my name – Elizabeth Mary Phelps, and the feel of the diploma as Fr. Murphy handed it to me. It was mine. At long last, it was mine. All those hours of study had finally come to fruition.

After the ceremony, I rushed to find Joseph. I know – I should have looked for my parents first, but at that moment, I needed to find him. At first I couldn’t, and for a brief, terrifying minute, I feared that maybe the flowers weren’t for me at all, but rather for some other Lourdes graduate who had caught his fancy. But then, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see him smiling and handing me the flowers.

I thanked him and then pulled him to come meet my family who I could see approaching from the other direction. Mama enveloped me in a big hug and said how proud she was. Daddy kissed my cheek. Maggie sulked but I refused to allow her to ruin my day.

I introduced Joseph and was so pleased to see how warmly my father greeted him. Daddy invited him to the party they were having for me. Joseph looked at me, searching for what his response should be, and I whispered “Please.” I hadn’t known if I would ever see him again. Now that he was there, I wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to slip away.

I asked my parents if it would be alright if Joseph gave me a ride home – I didn’t want him to get lost, after all, or at least that was the reason I offered.

As we made our way out of the hall, I said goodbye to Kathleen and Mary Katherine. They have been like sisters to me, and I shall miss them so. We promised to write. How is it possible that we may never see each other again? I can’t even think of that right now, because if I do, I will start crying again, and I will never finish this journal entry. And I do want to preserve this day for always so that fifty years from now, I can look back and read these pages and smile.

In any event, after we left the auditorium and were making our way to Joseph’s car, I asked him when his graduation was scheduled. Do you know what he said? He looked down at his watch and said, “It should be finishing up right about now.”I couldn’t believe it! He skipped his own graduation ceremony – his doctoral graduation ceremony – to come and see me. He said that he had wanted to see me and he knew that this was the only place he was sure that I would be. He also said that since his parents were dead and his siblings were busy with their own families, he had no one to come and that, having already attended his graduation when he finished his A.B., he truly didn’t mind missing this one. He then told me that if I was upset that he had come, he could certainly leave, but that I would have a rather long walk home because my parents had already departed. I did my best to assure him that I was indeed quite happy that he was there.

The party was small, but great fun. The Smiths and the Rosemonds were there and Jane stopped by with baby Tommy. It’s strange to think of my childhood friends already having families of their own, but adorable little Tommy is living proof of that. I suppose, by comparison, I’m practically an old maid.

I think Maggie was attempting to flirt with Joseph. I suppose, in retrospect, it was an improvement over her sulking – at least now, she was smiling, and if possible, I believe she was actually attempting to bat her eyelashes. Can you imagine? I felt embarrassed for her, and for me. Truthfully, more for me than for her. What would Joseph think of me, of my family? To his credit, he seemed to take it all in stride.

When he had said his goodbyes to my family and I was walking him back to his car, I commented that I thought my sister had a crush on him. He told me that Maggie would be a heartbreaker some day, but that she was a bit too young for him at the moment, and that, in any case, he had his eye on someone else.

At that point, he took my hands in his and I started to tremble. Why do I do that when he is around? It is a completely involuntary reaction – I have absolutely no control over it. And then, he pulled me closer, kissed my cheek and then kissed me ever so gently on my lips. It was pure magic, and do you know what my reaction was? I pushed away from him and ran in the other direction. Even as I write this, I still don’t know why. I suppose I was scared, but of what? He called after me and I stopped, and he apologized and said that he thought I wanted him to kiss me, which I most definitely did, and asked me if he could see me again.

I stumbled over my response in a manner completely unbefitting a new college graduate and told him that I was the one who should apologize, that I didn’t know what had come over me, and attempted to do my best to assure him that I did indeed wish to see him again. And then, do you know what I did? I still can’t completely believe it myself – I have never done anything like this in my life, but I threw my arms around him and kissed him, completely losing myself in his embrace. I am rather pleased to report that he did not run at all.

We made plans for next weekend and I watched his car drive away. When I turned around, I cringed when I saw both Mama and Maggie looking out the window before they quickly closed the curtain. No doubt, they had seen the whole thing, although when I entered the house they both made a valiant attempt to look busy. Ah well, I suppose we all can use a little excitement, especially me. I’m already counting the days until next Saturday.

From The Rose Ring


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Rose Ring, Chapter Four

“I wasn’t going to say anything,” her mother said, “but you look like you’ve put on a couple pounds. You need to make sure you get enough exercise. You can’t expect to find a man if you don’t take care of yourself. You aren’t getting any younger, you know.” Julia had just walked into the door of her parent’s house. All she wanted to do was turn around and walk out.
“I do exercise,” Julia said as she put down her bag, “and, besides, I’m not even looking for a man.”
“Yes, that’s the problem. You need to look. You can’t just expect a man to fall from the sky. You think Prince Charming is going to simply show up on your doorstep one day and whisk you away.”
“I think no such thing. I don’t want a man at all. With the possible exception of Dad, men are overrated. I’m happy being single.”
“Stop lying to yourself. Nobody could be happy the way you are,” she said. “Anyway, I think I have solved your problem. You should thank me.”
These were words that Julia hated to hear. They usually meant that her mother had done something she was definitely not going to want to thank her for.
“I went out to lunch the other day with Mrs. Stuart. You remember her, don’t you?”
“Of course.”
Samantha Stuart had been her mother’s friend from the day her parents had moved into their home as newlyweds. She lived three doors down and was tall and anorexically thin. Her most prominent feature was a large pointy nose that she always seemed to look down on people with. She wore too much makeup, too tight clothes, and reeked of perfume which caused Julia to sneeze compulsively in her presence.
The only thing worse than Mrs. Stuart was her son. Steve Stuart was a year older than Julia, but he had been held back in kindergarten and as a result, she had suffered through the great misfortune of spending twelve years of school with him.
He seemed to have made it his special mission to torment Julia. He pulled on her ponytails when she was young and followed her around when she was in high school like a stray puppy lusting after a bone. After school, he would hang out in her backyard.
Katie was always more outgoing and, not having just endured six hours of school with him, would attempt to get him to play. She figured that if he was going to be there, he might as well be of use in their adventures. Except, he wouldn’t play. No matter how much Katie tried to convince him, he never wanted to swing or go down the slide or even explore the woods behind the Manning home. No – he just sat and stared at Julia. No matter where she was, she could feel his eyes on her. Just the thought of it still gave her the heebie-jeebies. Steve also didn’t talk. When asked a question, he usually provided a monosyllabic answer, and he never volunteered any information at all. Julia had met rocks that were more interesting.
Amazingly, he had managed to graduate from high school, college and law school. He had, much to Julia’s relief, moved a few towns away. Last she had heard, he was supposed to be getting married, a fact that Julia firmly believed served as evidence that miracles could still happen.
“Well, then, you must remember her son Steve also,” her mother said in a tone that immediately made Julia fear where this conversation might be going.
“How could I forget? He used to be my living shadow.”
“You were always too hard on that boy,” her mother continued. “He had a crush on you. He just didn’t know how to show it. Perhaps if you had paid more attention to him, instead of that other boy, you wouldn’t be in the predicament you are in now.”
“Mom, I’m single. It is not a predicament. It is not a disease. It simply means that I am not married.”
Her mother ignored her. “Steve has grown into a very successful and handsome man.”
While it was true that Steve had been spared the misfortune of inheriting his mother’s nose, handsome was not a word that Julia would have ever used to describe him. Regardless, his looks were never the issue. He was just odd. Julia didn’t wish him ill. She was simply more than happy for them to peacefully coexist twenty miles away from each other.
“And it is your lucky day,” her mother continued, “because Steve is newly single. His fiancĂ© decided that she needed to go find herself.” Her mother air-quoted the last two words. “I don’t know what is wrong with you young people today. Are you all lost?”
Yes, Julia had known it was too good to be true. Miracles clearly did not still happen in the twenty-first century.
“Anyway, as soon as we heard, Samantha and I decided to fix the two of you up. When you were just babies in diapers we dreamed of you growing up and getting married, and now it really has the chance to happen. We’re both so excited.
And I’m about to vomit. “Mom, how could you?”
“Oh, dear, it’s perfect. We have it all arranged. You have reservations at six o’clock on Saturday at Le Bella, that new Italian place in Smithsfield. Sam said that she has been there and it is so romantic and the food is to die for. She simply couldn’t think of a better place for you two to start your life together, and I trust her judgment completely.”
Julia clunked her head on the table. She had to be stuck in some horrible nightmare and if she could only open her eyes, she would wake up and it would all be over.
“What’s wrong with you? You should be excited. An opportunity like this doesn’t come along every day.”
Julia reluctantly raised her head. Clearly, the nightmare wasn’t over yet.
“Now we must go shopping,” her mother said with entirely too much enthusiasm.”You need something new to wear. I know Steve was enamored with you when you were young, but, let’s face it, the years have not been kind and we need you to make a good impression.”
Julia had obviously been transported to a little slice of hell. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Rose Ring's First Review

Many thanks go out to Janice Lane Palko for her kind review of The Rose Ring.

Palko writes:

If you are in the mood for a heartwarming, charming love story, you can't go wrong with "The Rose Ring."

Please read the full review here: Book Review: The Rose Ring    

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Rose Ring, Chapter Three

Elizabeth’s Journal

Thursday, May 1, 1941

I met the most amazing man today. It was a beautiful day outside – perfect actually – and I wanted to be out in it so much, but I was stuck in the library, frantically trying to do research for my French literature paper that is hanging over my head like a lead weight. Graduation is only two weeks away and I simply must get it finished. So, there I was, poring over my books, when he came in.

I don’t know what made me look up at that moment, but when I did, he was looking at me with his sapphire blue eyes. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever seen eyes so blue. He smiled and I returned the pleasantry before wavering under his gaze. I pretended to be engrossed in my book. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I couldn’t make out a word on the page. All I could feel were his eyes taking me in.

He sat down across the table from me. I glanced up. He was still looking at me! Nobody has ever looked at me like that. I started to shake with nerves. I prayed he wouldn’t notice, and tried to push my hair back into place. When I did so, he reached across the table and gently pushed it back for me, letting his fingers caress my face as he did so. How brazen! I felt the color rush to my cheeks, and yet, I made no move to stop him. Even now, his touch still lingers there.

“You are the most beautiful woman I have ever met.” These were the first words he said to me. I have no doubt he’s said the same thing to a thousand women, and yet, in that moment, I almost believed him. He remarked that it was far too pleasant a day to be inside and invited me to go for a walk. I confess, my efforts to explore the symbolism of Baudelaire’s poetry were quickly tossed aside.

We walked around the campus and the neighborhood. He’s from Ohio, but just finished up his Ph.D. in history at St. Thomas University and was hired to teach Western Civilization here at Our Lady of Lourdes next year. He had come into the library to check out the history books in the collection. I don’t believe he quite achieved his objective.

We walked and talked for two hours about everything. I told him things I’ve never shared with anyone except in the pages of this journal. I never believed in love at first sight – especially not for me. I never even thought I’d get married, and yet, here I am, after one afternoon, dreaming of it. It’s all so silly. I sound like a love-sick school girl instead of a woman about to graduate from college.

It wasn’t even until he walked me back to my dorm that I thought to ask him what his name was. It’s Joseph Wynn. I even like the sound of his name. I like the sound of my name with his. Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Wynn, Mrs. Joseph Wynn, Mrs. Elizabeth Wynn. It has such a pleasant ring to it.

What lunacy has come upon me? I need to focus. Finals are in a week! They, and that wretched French lit paper, are all that stands between me and the college degree I have worked so hard for. But I feel like flying. How can I possibly sit in a chair with an old, dusty book? How can I focus when all I see before me are his dark hair and blue eyes and all I hear is the sweet sound of his voice saying my name?

When I introduced myself, he took my hand, and holding it longer than was, strictly speaking, necessary, raised it to his lips and said, “Beth, it has been a great pleasure. I hope to see you again very soon.” Then he winked, smiled, and turned to go.

No one has ever called me “Beth” before. I think I could get rather used to it. 

  From The Rose Ring

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Rose Ring, Chapter Two

“After lunch, I was hoping you could help me with a project I’ve been putting off,” Julia’s mother stated.
“But I brought over Rear Window,” she appealed to her father, “the one with Jimmy Stewart. I was really looking forward to watching it.”
“Your movie can wait until next week. It won’t kill the two of you to do something I want to do for a change.”
Julia glanced over at her father, who was rhythmically eating his turkey on rye sandwich. He looked up briefly, caught her eye and shrugged. Obviously the battle was lost.
“What did you have in mind?” Julia asked.
“Your grandmother’s been dead for almost two years. It’s time that we go through her stuff. Every month, we pay for that storage unit to keep a bunch of junk that’s rotting away as we speak. The least we can do is give it away, and it shouldn’t be my job to go through it all by myself. Besides,” she added, “I figured there might be something in there you might want – you know, a memento or something.”
“I don’t know,” Julia said. “I don’t need anything and it’s not like Nana and I were ever that close.”
“Your grandmother loved you.”
“Yes, Mom, I know. But it wasn’t like she was the type of grandmother who liked to bake cookies and give hugs.” Eccentric and as comforting as a bed of nails was a more appropriate description.
“She did the best she could, and you should appreciate what she did for you instead of complaining about what she didn’t.”
Julia sighed and nodded. Her mother kept talking.
“Anyway, even if you don’t take anything, you can still help me organize and decide what should be given away and what can be tossed. So, finish up your lunch and we can get going.” Clearly, this was a command, not a request.

Julia’s mom opened nondescript storage unit number 42B which revealed piles of large totes on one side and an assortment of odd furniture, most of it circa 1985, on the other. What a bunch of junk, Julia thought.
“Hmm . . . I had forgotten how much furniture was in here,” Julia’s mom said. “I suppose I’ll have to get a truck to bring all that to the thrift shop. I had told your uncle that we should have just had an estate sale when we were selling the house, but did he listen to me? No, of course not. He was in such a rush to get it cleaned out, he just dumped it all in here and told me to take care of it. What was he thinking? I tell you, life would be so much better if people would simply listen to me.” She didn’t wait for Julia to agree with her.
“Here, grab one of these trash bags and dig into those boxes over there,” her mother said as she handed her the box of bags.
Julia lifted the first box and did as she was told. To her great chagrin, it contained several pairs of slightly yellowed rather large underwear, along with one red negligee. She had no desire to even think about what her grandmother had been doing with that particular article of clothing. She shuddered as she stuffed it with remarkable haste into the trash bag.
Thankfully, the next box was considerably less interesting, consisting primarily of kitchen items – old dishes, cups with chips in them, a mixer that had definitely seen better days. She salvaged what she could and tossed what she couldn’t, making her way through the boxes as quickly as she could. She certainly didn’t want to spend another Sunday doing this. It wasn’t as if she had anything else pressing on her calendar, but she enjoyed her usual routine with her father. She glanced over at him. Her mother was looking over his shoulder, second-guessing every decision he made.
“What are you thinking – putting that in the trash? It still has years of life in it – put it in the donate pile.” Her father sighed with resignation. Poor man, he wasn’t enjoying this any more than she was. It was one more reason to get through the suffering as quickly as possible.
She was on box number eight when she came across a heavy, bulging large shoebox held together with rubber bands. The bottom was moldy and it looked as if it hadn’t been touched in at least twenty years. Yuck, what on earth is this? Her curiosity and disgust waged a short battle. Her disgust urged her to place it immediately in the trash bag lest some rodent escape from it, while her curiosity pleaded with her to discover the contents. Her curiosity won out.
The rubber bands broke as soon as she attempted to remove them, and the cover disintegrated as she lifted it off. Inside, she found one old canvas sneaker, a glass soda bottle, two pairs of tweezers, a pair of wire-framed eyeglasses with one of the lenses missing, a water-logged copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and a dirt-encrusted ring.
“Ma,” she said as she walked over to the mother who was sorting through a pile of bed lines. “I know Grandma was a little odd, but do you have any idea what she was doing with this junk?”
Her mother peered into the box. “Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she said. “These must be things she picked up while swimming in the lake. She used to talk about how she sometimes found odd things while she was out there. She said that she liked to imagine the stories connected to the items. You know, who did they belong to and how did they end up in the bottom of the lake – that sort of thing. Your grandmother always did have a vivid imagination.”
Her mother picked up the sneaker with one finger and held it at arm’s length before dropping it disdainfully back into the box. “I never knew she kept the stuff.” She shook her head. “Just throw it away. No one in their right mind would want those things.”
“Look, there’s a ring in here.” Julia held it up. “Nana never bothered to even clean it off.”
“She probably just threw it into the box and then forgot about it. You don’t think it’s worth anything, do you?”
“No,” Julia said as she unsuccessfully tried to rub some of the dirt off. “I just think it’s interesting. Do you mind if I keep it?”
“Nah, go ahead. I said you could have a memento. If you want a dirty old ring to remind you of your grandmother, who am I to argue?”
“Great, thanks.” Julia shoved the ring into her pocket before depositing the rest of the box in the trash.
When she got home, she pulled out the ring and rinsed it off before putting it in jewelry cleaner. When she removed it, she was struck by its beauty. It was a gold band with a golden rose. In the very center of the rose was what appeared to be a small diamond. She looked inside – there was no inscription. She slipped it on the ring finger of her left hand. It fit perfectly. The stone glistened, creating rainbows in the light. Probably the closest I’ll ever come to wearing a diamond on that hand again. Still, she couldn’t very well go out in public like that. She switched the ring over to her right hand. It was a bit tighter, but still fit.
Ah well, Julia sighed. It’s still pretty. Someone might as well get some use out of the poor neglected thing. Who knew how long it had been sitting in her grandmother’s shoebox or what it had been doing in the lake in the first place?