I was wiping the glass shelves when I heard the door chimes dancing. “Another one.” I said to myself. She came as they all usually do; eyes sparkling with excitement and wonder. They usually wait outside until the shop becomes empty and they slip in like a thief. They walk in circles giggling albeit quiet – I seem to hear their hearts beating fast. She was one of them.
She rang the bell, and that was my cue.
I turned with a smile like I always do for thirty-five years now and I asked: “Can I give you some tea my child?” It always makes them glow like the diamonds that are studded in my rings.
“Oh they are lovely” she remarked.
“Yes, as lovely as the next bride who will wear them for life. Do you fancy one? Is it for eternity?”
“Oh, I don’t have a fiancé yet, so maybe they can wait for me.” she said in a shy tone.
“Not to worry, next time you come, you will be bringing him with you. How long have you been dating if I may ask uhmmmm…?” I replied a leading question to make her say her name and her true intent.
“Oh, I’m sorry, but I’m not even dating anyone, I just happened to pass by and, yeah, I am Katarina.” she said.
Her persona is no stranger to me. I’ve seen hundreds like her. They glance by my shop and hope that one day they will come here with the man of their dreams. That is why I named this store Esperanza because before lovers come inside, they are outside with their romantic hopes in their front pockets. They are pretending to have patience.
“Would you like to try one?” I offered.
“Wouldn’t that be bad luck? I’m afraid of the consequences” she expressed her hesitation.
“Katarina, I assure you, there is no bad luck when it comes to these things, they only reflect the owner’s attitude towards love. I am wishing that the universe will find your prince for you. To have the end in mind, I mean.”
I took out the rings she chose and as I opened the box I chanced to observe her. She was distraught and eager and excited. She held the woman’s ring like it was burning coal. The diamond reflected for a second in her left cheek and in that second, she fell into the spell. She inserted the ring in her finger like a seal of enchantment and looked at it like this was the only reason she was born for.
And I knew what would happen next.
I asked if she liked it, and she nodded, she was speechless. And I got a confirmation of my intuition.
After a while she walked out of my Esperanza and left with high spirits. I always felt like I was cupid but then unlike cupid, I wanted my clients to exit the shop with a piece of truth in their heart.
7 months after, I was wiping the glass shelves and I heard the door chimes announcing her arrival – Katarina. I turned with a smile and like I expected, she came together with someone. This time she was more eager than ever, her heart wanted to burst out of her chest. She looked at me with a deep need for a compliment and approval as if I was her father.
“Hi, I’m Giorgio and we are…we want to…we need rings to seal our vows.” He was pulling all the courage for this moment. 35 years and I have learned to read people who walks through my shop and Giorgio couldn’t escape from being anxious.
Later, they decided to take the rings.
Katarina looked at me with a beautiful smile as if telling me not to reveal that she came here alone before. I understood. They left like every single couple; very happy and ecstatic. I gave them my sincere and best wishes before the chimes sealed their future.
I proceeded with recording the sale and taking it off the inventory list. I had to make a new pair of rings and wait for cupid to do supporting role for my shop!
Two score years after, I did as I always do – polishing the glass shelves. I heard the door chimes and chilly breeze went in, yet I saw no one. It was strange. I looked by the doorstep and I saw that there was a box left there like an orphaned dog. I went there oblivious about this little present.
I opened it and I saw a tarnished ring sitting lonely. It broke my heart because I recognized whose ring that was – it was Katarina’s.
I flipped the door sign to ‘closed’ and went to my workshop. I talked with the ring, “why did you come back my friend? Who left you here? What story do you have?”
Usually I don’t do anything with rings returned and this was not the first time. I just keep them. I keep them until my last breath hoping that their owners would come back and reconsider.
However, this time, the ring was so lonely that the diamond on it didn’t even glow. It was dull, all facets putrid without luster. It was heart breaking, this never happened before and I couldn’t accept it. So I started working on it, trying to bring it back to life. I polished it, one facet after the other. The silver body needed ultrasonic cleaning too so I gave it what it needed.
It came back to how elegant it was. It’s a shame it was orphaned shorter than expected. And then a disturbing thought hit me. I felt like the ring wanted to have a new owner. I never really re-sell rings that were returned but this one had a small voice begging to be back to someone else’s hands.
So, that night, I made an exception. I melted the silver body, took off the diamond slowly. I redesigned the body using its melted core and then I added facets to the diamond; numerous small ones. When she was done, I said to myself that she was the most beautiful ring I ever made.
With much hesitation, I placed it for sale and paired with another one. I closed my eyes and made a wish.
“Please, be in the hands of your rightful owner. Let her, whoever she is, keep you forever.”
A year after, the chimes of destiny played its melody one afternoon. I was humming to the song “Fly me to the moon” while wiping the glass shelves. Focusing over the the rings, I said “How can I help you Madame?” With my head down, I noticed her shoes were crimson red stilettoes that danced the parquet floor.
“I’d like to buy a ring for me.” she said with much conviction.
I looked up and I recognized her instantly, she came back: Katarina. I pretended as if I didn’t remember her so as to put her at ease. She looked sharply at me and then pointed out to a pair of rings. “I want these.”
I looked at her choice and I realized that it was the same ring I saved a year ago. The same ring that was coupled with a new one. I smiled secretly. Then I placed it on top of the glass shelf to let her have a look.
“How long have you been together Madame?” I probed as I always do.
“Long enough that memories have faded along with the tides of time.”
I felt hurt for her. She must’ve been hurt so bad. I sensed a callused heart throbbing inside of her.
“How much for these?” she suddenly asked.
“$1,300 Madame. And if I may ask, when is the wedding?”. I knew it was hurtful and obvious that she came on her own volition to confront feelings with a diamond that always reflects the truth.
“Soon…maybe.”, she replied with a straight and disturbing tone.
Before I could pack the rings, she wore the one she wanted. I couldn’t believe how she purchased the same ring, as if the ring found her too. And I realized that my wish was granted. She was the rightful owner of that ring and it didn’t want to belong to someone else. They are one and made for each other. And who am I to judge whatever fate has decided upon her and her past?
What was clear to me that day was that, a long time ago, she came for the ring even when she didn’t love anyone. And when things in her life didn’t go as planned, she still came for the same ring, even if it disguised as something else.
She needed that ring, the sensation of it around her finger defined the spell that controlled her fate.
And when she left, I understood that she didn’t need the love she hoped for – she needed a ring.