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Old 08-15-2014, 09:20 AM
gloria (Offline)
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Default The Ring (479)

The thought of the dingy, dark basement made me feel bad, and opening Alan’s safe – searching through his papers, recalling old memories, no I didn’t want to do that.

I had too. The solicitor wanted to settle Alan’s affairs.

‘Mildred, we really must sort his papers out. I’ll come over and help you if you can’t handle it yourself.’

His voice so matter-of-fact, not a tremor, made me cringe. I’d never liked Mr George Judson, never had, never would and I didn’t like his attitude. Only two weeks since Alan’s death, only two weeks since the accident and I think of it everyday, Alan passing through a red light, ploughing into a large lorry, instant death, the police officer had told me.

Married for forty-two years, happy years, no secrets, not Alan, my stay-at-home Alan, I could always tell when he white-lied.

Dust had settled everywhere, and the rickety stairs had me gripping the handrail. The overhead light let out a dim glow, lightening the dull grey steel safe sitting beneath the high barred window. It took just a few seconds, a click of the lock and the heavy door swung open.

The shelves were full of papers, old photos and a small black box – a jewellery box. I gathered the papers, the photos together and pushed them down into a cardboard box I’d brought with me. With just the small jewellery box left on the shelf, my hand reached out and took it.

It sparkled, even in the dim light, a bright glittering aquamarine ring on a bed of white velvet. For me? Tears spilled as I thought of Alan, of our anniversary just one week away – he’d remembered. I had to try the ring on. I lifted it from its padded bed. I noticed an engraving on the inside of the gold band. One word, one word only, and that a name I’d never heard mentioned – Delores. A chill chased through me.

Thoughts I’d never dreamed of ran like snapshots through my mind. Alan’s late nights at the bank, his weekends away, no I wouldn’t believe it. Alan had never lied, no secrets he’d said, no secrets Mildred.

I sat in the dark dingy basement and I cried. How long I sat there, I don’t remember, until with a jolt I started to go through the papers I’d so carelessly packed away. It took some time but at last, I found it, his diary, and a letter, addressed to Alan, from an unknown solicitor, advising him of the death of Delores Wilbourne, of the aquamarine ring she’d bequeathed him.

He’d never mentioned her by name, never spoken about her through all our forty-two years. He’d kept a secret, kept it close to his heart. And there, in that dim basement I read his diary and forgave him. Delores Winbourne – a secret, a secret that’s safe with me.