with this ring…

She mashed the ground beef and bread crumbs in her fingers, feeling the slimy meat ooze through her hands. The other condiments for the hamburgers were already laid out before her and as she continued to mix and mash and form the patties she surveyed the counter to make sure she had everything she needed.

And she saw them. Set aside to keep from getting gooey with meat.
Her rings.

A diamond ring and a wedding band slightly scratched in a few places and desperately needing to be cleaned.

She remembered the day he had slid that diamond on her left hand and asked her to grow old with him. She remembered the giddiness. The way she felt filled with air and heat and glitter.

And she remembered the lace of her dress that clung to her barely twenty-two year old body in the sticky June humidity when the band was slid next to it. She remembered the promise. The way she clung to her new husband's hand as they floated back down the aisle.

She looked at her bare hands, covered in muck and slime. There were places that were cracked and raw from a week of washing and scrubbing and sanitizing when her oldest daughter had been sick. Her nails were trimmed back, short and efficient and able to change her eight month old's diapers quickly and with no fuss.

She finished the last hamburger patty and moved to the sink. Scrubbing her hands with soaps she thought about the time that had elapsed since she first began wearing those rings. The honeymoon, the first apartment, the first real fight, the move, the first baby, the second.

She wiped her hands on a towel and picked up the band. As she flipped it over in her fingers she thought of her friends who were recently engaged or nearly engaged or just married. She thought about their shiny new diamonds, their newly made promises. She thought about them, someday down the road, mixing meat with polish free nails listening to the laughter from the living room. Two little girls squealing and a male voice leaking in to the kitchen.

She slipped the band and then the diamond, tarnished as they were, back onto her finger and whispered under her breath, With this ring… 
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