Ring by Roman Elrich
I’m told that my mother had small, pretty hands like a hand model. Like a princess. I don’t have much of a visual memory, and my mind’s eye is all but non existent so I don’t know what people mean by that exactly. I cannot remember what her hands looked like and I cannot create an image in my mind of what they might have looked like. I do believe them though. Because of the ring.
It’s a small thing I got wrapped in some forgettable pattern of wrapping paper when I turned thirteen and I still had my family convinced that I liked that kind of thing. A white box with a curly logo of some jewelry company that I can never bother to remember that holds a powder blue ring box that in turn holds the ring. It’s made of gold and is delicate and thin. On top there is a pearl, the birthstone for the month of June, the month I was born in, and two very small diamonds on either side that are only really visible if you’re up close to it.
My father tells me that he gave that ring to my mother after I was born, and when she died he planned to give it to me when I turned Thirteen. So for the last seven years it’s been sitting in its box within a box on my nightstand. Every so often since I got it I will take it out and look at it. Inspect it. It’s very small in comparison to my hands. It would have fit on my mother’s ring finger perfectly, and she would have worn it, because her hands looked very good with rings on them. It is barely too big on my pinky finger and won’t go past the second knuckle on my ring finger. And even if it could, I very much took after my father in the way my hands and body are constructed. I’m strong and sturdy, not pretty and easy to knock over. As nice as that is, it generally means that rings don’t look very good on me. These days if I wear one (which isn’t often) I wear a simple black or silver band made of cheap metal on my right middle finger so I can tap it against things because I like the sound that it makes.
Perhaps my ring is painful in that it holds expectations, naive ideas that I used to have. My family was convinced that I would take after my mother, I’m sure. Although she was an opinionated woman and a feminist, she was a woman and she was feminine. Perhaps what I gained from her was the opinionated feminist part, and not so much the feminine part. Or the woman part. My family often dressed me up when I was small, and I never understood why, but they had me convinced that I liked it because it was all that I knew.
When I became old enough to think for myself I didn’t know how to break it to them, that I didn’t enjoy things like delicate gold rings with pearls in them, that I much preferred to wear blue things from the boys department and steel men’s necklaces hanging on chords that hit against your chest when you run and water resistant watches that glow in the dark and rubber bracelets and dog tags and jeans made of black denim. But I held onto the ring far too small for me and the pink scoop necks and dainty silver necklaces and sparkly children’s lip gloss that went along with it. They felt a lot like that ring does when I try to fit it on my ring finger. Tight, painful, and far too difficult to remove.
Though perhaps I could also say the ring is more beautiful then that because my mama is somewhere in it. I have no visual memory of my mother’s hands but I remember the way they felt against my face when she tried to shield me from frightening things on the tv screen. Her hands perfectly fit against my small face. They were warm, they were comforting, and they usually had rings on them which rubbed against my cheek, hard thin metal in contrast to her soft fingers. Perhaps one of those times the ring she wore was the one living on my nightstand now. She never lived to see me grow bigger than her. She never got to see the person I became. What I liked, what I don’t like, my gender, the ways I differ from her and the ways that I am very much my mother’s son.
I don’t know what she would think of all that. I don’t have the ability to imagine her at the height she was or how exactly how dainty her fingers were, but the ring gives me at least a small notion of what she was like. In what she liked, in what she looked like, felt like. It works as a piece of the puzzle, helping me figure out what and who she was.
Roman Elrich is a junior undergraduate English major and creative writing minor at Fresno State. When he's not writing short stories or creative essays about everything from gender to dragons you might find them sewing, going on long walks by themself, showing friends internet videos, or reading until his eyes hurt.
Photo by Henti Smith