Friday, December 30, 2011

The Ring

Pray you now, forget and forgive. - William Shakespeare, King Lear

How badly do you want it?
The question echoes through my head. Why am I hesitant to take it? He can't slap me. He can't hurt me.
Daddy was not well-loved. In the chapel, I strain to hear the usual sounds of grief; tears, snivels, sighs. There are none.
I glance down at the frayed hem of my best dress, the worn heels of my shoes. The expectant, hungry gaze of my children bores into my shoulder blades; my father's grandchildren, whose existence he never acknowledged.
My two sisters stand on the other side of Daddy's coffin, their contempt clearly visible. In their hands are the coveted objects of their desires. Neither one needs more money. They both married for wealth, comfort and status. I married for love and, in retrospect, for freedom. From the first day we met, my husband made me happy, and my happiness remained, even after Daddy disowned me for marrying a bartender.
Two years ago, my husband, the father of my beautiful children, died in an auto accident. He wouldn't want me to be here, faced with this choice.
I am desperate.
The diamond-and-ruby ring sparkles on my father's pale, rigid hand with the promise of a return to prosperity: hot meals, new shoes and clothes for my kids, a down payment on a new apartment in a neighborhood where my children and I can feel safe. Perhaps there would be enough left over for a small nest egg, so my kids can to go to college.
I stare at his hand... the hand attached to the object I need. The hand that used to stroke my head when I was little. The hand that covered my mouth to stifle my cries when he came into my room at night to rape me. The hand that struck me down the day after my wedding in front of my husband and my new in-laws.
The terms of the will are clear. If I don't go through with this last task, then I fail... again. Even in death, my father determines my choices.
I lift his hand to my lips. It’s stiff, square, and cold. I try not to shudder. I wonder how I can summon the bestial indifference that my sisters were able to use to finish the challenge, to win.
I stare at the greedy bloodstained smiles of my sisters. I move his hand to my lips, open my mouth and enclose the finger with the ring inside, just past my teeth. I try not to gag. Two bloody, ragged stumps brush against my cheek. I close my lips and begin to bite down as the taste of embalmed flesh and metal fill my senses.

copyright 2011 marie lecrivain
Marie Lecrivain 

Marie Lecrivain is a writer, editor, and photographer who resides in Los Angeles. She is the editor/publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in various online/print journals, including Haibun Today, Heavy Hands Ink, Illumen, The Los Angeles Review, and Poetry Salzburg Review. Her short story collection, Bitchess (copyright 2011 Sybaritic Press), is available through and

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