It was more than a ring. It was the love of a man trapped in a pale green stone. It was the feel of the cold band upon my cheek when my mother stroked my face. It was my mother, dancing in the kitchen, the sunlight gleaming upon the green rock. It was the band that pledged my father and mother together. The union that created me.
They had left me with many of their things. Their home full of furniture and memories. A lawn full of neglected flowers and the collections of random items from a lifetime of living. But this was my favorite. The dearest to me. The thing that sparked tears and joy. I kept it in my jewelry box and tugged it out when I missed them most.
Now it was gone. Not just gone. Stolen. Some malicious teens had taken advantage of a low window and broken into my apartment. All they took was the jewelry box. Some other objects were nestled inside. Some more valuable. The trinkets of exes who thought money equaled happiness. I was glad they were gone.
I was not glad the ring was gone.
I cried all night. Fell asleep as the comfort of exhaustion stole memory from me. I slept in late and woke in panic. Extremely late. I skipped the coffee and the eyeliner and dashed out. My mind sadly was still on the missing ring. It’s absence depressed me. I would never feel the slight chip in the stone or run my finger along the band where my mother’s skin touched.
The subway was a throng. As it always is. I elbowed my way onto a car heading in the general direction I needed to go. One seat was available. Like the veteran subway-goer I was, I immediately noticed it and prodded my way into it.
Then I witnessed something almost invisible. A faint strand blowing in the breeze. My horrified eyes followed it’s trail. The shards of a spiderweb were wrapped around the arm of the chair. I did not even wait to see the maleficent creature.
I shoved my way out of the car and threw myself at the doors as the were closing. I fell to the pavement, like a bug spat out of the mouth of a huge sea creature. My heart still racing, I knelt there for a few moments. My head hanging.
I am afraid of spiders.
I sat on a bench and cried. My palms stung. My heart had barely stilled although the horrifying thoughts of spider legs still crept along my skin. I rubbed my ring finger. Still thinking of all that I had lost.
My heirloom and my courage. All in one day.
I gave up on work. No more subway trains headed in the right direction at a remotely helpful time. I was already ridiculously late. Let them yell. Or fire me. It could not make my life any worse than it was now.
Sitting on sticky bench in dim, starkly illuminated subway station, with the fingerprints of tears on my cheeks and blood on my hands.
The station had grown more quiet as the last of the morning rush petered off. There were still a few milling about. I remained seating, too weak and afraid and lonely to move.
Suddenly I realized I was not as alone as I thought. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man standing. He was dressed in dark clothing and lurking in the shadows. His stare brought a chill to my spine.
I darted a quick gaze around the station to see if there was anyone who might help me if he decided to attack. Which seemed startlingly imminent. I briefly wondered if he was in league with the bandits and the spiders to bring me to my knees.
When I looked again, he was gone.
It took much longer for my heart rate to go down.
I walked home alone. Weak and defeated. I did not know what to do.
I called my sister.
I immediately regretted it. She sounded busy, juggling three children and lasagna in the oven. I still told her of my misery.
“That ring? Oh yes….sit down this instant, Cody or so help me….I’m sorry you are having a rough time dear,” she said. A clatter erupted on the other line. She must have dropped something.
I sniveled and rubbed my nose on the back of my hand.
“I know it’s rough….” the sound of screaming cut her off. “….Wilfred! Stop teasing your sister!”
“It’s okay. I’ll let you go,” I said quietly, wondering what I was going to do. She was my last hope.
“All right. Yeah. It’s so hectic here,” she said. Her voice so sweet and familiar and safe in my ear, “but hey, don’t forget, fears are only fears. Everything will be okay.”
There was another commotion. The phone clicked.
I repeated the last four words to myself over and over again, on my long walk home. Oddly they were comforting.
A ring was just a ring. Even if it was emotional for me. There were many other things to remind me of my parents. The ice cream shop down the street where they used to talk us on our excursions to the big city or the scarf my dad worn in the winter that smelled like aftershave.
The evil spiders and the sinister man were just fears. Worthless actually. Running from the spiderweb and raising my adrenalin over the stare of a stranger were pretty silly, now walking in the sunshine.
I took a deep breath. Fears are only fears.
Then I was hit by a truck. Some fears are genuine.