A Ring for Lilly
His stomach turned, his knees were weak, as he moved closer to the front door. He began to think about her smile and the scent of her hair. His fingers wrapped around the metal handle and he pulled open the heavy door. This is it, he thought as he walked inside.
“Hi, how can I help you, young man?”
The woman standing behind the glass display gave a small grin with her crimson lips. Her hair was grey with streaks of white and pulled back into a smooth French twist. She wore a light blue pant suit with a silk blouse. Three separate bracelets adorned each wrist, matched to the multitude of gold diamond rings decorating her beautifully manicured fingers.
“I’m here to buy a ring. An engagement ring,” he said, his voice shaking. He could hardly believe the words were coming out of his own mouth.
“Oh, that’s wonderful. My name is Linda and I’ll be helping you out today,” she said as she held out her hand for him to shake. Her fingers were cold and clammy.
“How long have you known the lucky lady?”
She smiled, this time large enough to expose smudged lipstick that had somehow made its way onto her two front teeth.
“The engagement rings are right down here.”
The mass quantities of jewelry clinked together as she pointed towards a display to her far left.
As he walked towards the display he felt his heart beating again.
“What’s your girlfriend like?”
He thought for a moment, his mind began racing through every detail. Her hair smooth, black and wavy, bounced over her soft round shoulders. It reminded him of ocean waves moving over the smooth beige sand of a beach. He thought about his favorite day of the week, Sunday, when they would lie in bed the whole morning. She was usually dressed in nothing more than small pink bikini cut underwear and a tiny tank top. Her smile made her even more stunning as she rolled around in the sheets, laughing intensely at all his stupid jokes. He thought of her kiss, slow, soft, sensual, capped off with the faint taste of mango lingering on her tongue.
Not being able to explain his thoughts to Linda, he simply told her, “She loves to laugh and she loves the beach.”
“Okay, what about this one here?” Linda pulled out a modest diamond atop a smooth white gold band.
Taking the ring, he examined it. It was lovely, but he knew he could do better.
“Hmm…” He looked down at the collection of rings meticulously scanning every detail. Then he saw it.
“What about that one there?”
Linda slowly pulled out the ring and sat it on the glass. It was white gold with a large princess cut diamond. A row of diamonds moving from large to small lined each side.
“How much is it?” He was scared of the answer, but knew no matter what the price Lilly deserved more.
“The engagement ring alone is thirty-five hundred dollars.”
Twenty minutes later he left the store with a small white box, along with three thousand five hundred dollars of debt. Getting into his car, he let out a deep breath and smiled.
When his car turned onto his street, he saw Lilly’s green Nissan parked outside of the small two story townhouse they shared. He slowly made his way to the front door. His nerves began to set in, and he paused for a moment. His pulse was racing, his breathing labored.
Taking the ring out, he looked at it once more, scrutinizing every feature. It appeared perfect, but upon closer examination he noticed a smear on the underside of the ring. Using his t-shirt, he promptly wiped away the imperfection.
“Perfect,” he said replacing the ring in its box, and slowly slid it into his pocket.
You can do this, just act normal, he told himself. He peered inside the small window on the top of the door, but saw nothing. After opening the door, the sound of music trickling down from the second floor struck him instantly. Wanting to catch his Lilly dancing in front of the mirror, one of her favorite mid-morning rituals, he darted up the stairs.
The door was open a crack. Trying not to disturb her mid-dance, he silently moved towards the room while peering inside. That’s when he saw her. She was not dancing; on the contrary, she was lying on the bed stomach down, every part of her perfect beige skin exposed to the air. A cigarette lay between her lips. He moved his hand to open the door, but in that moment he heard a voice. His hand stopped short. The voice had come from inside the room.
“Thanks, babe,” he heard a man say from the other side of the door.
Feeling the anger rising through his core, he used every ounce of will he had to hold back from storming the room. His hand moved over top of his pant pocket, clutching the box inside.
The man on the other side of the door was wearing a pair of untied blue and white shorts. Moving into sight, the man walked to the bed and slapped Lilly’s soft, round behind. Her shoulders shrugged, her mouth formed a smile and she began to laugh.
Wiping his tears, he turned abruptly, and made his way down the stairs. As his stomach was sinking, his soul became flat, and his world empty. He set the white box on the table next to a little glass bowl containing left-over shriveled mango peels, and walked out the door.