Gage had told me beforehand that he was making my engagement ring, before he had made the drive to Ocean City, Maryland
, to visit me the one summer we were apart, the summer after my freshman year in college, six months after we met and promptly fell in love. I think he did it to see what my reaction would be, not necessarily because he was sure I would say yes when he asked me.
He unfolded a letter written to me that was sealed with raspberry colored wax with an "R" on it, a stamp he had also made. He was in the stages of learning to make simple jewelry, mainly consisting of silver and stones he'd find at a gem shop in Virginia, where that summer he was living with his parents and working. A few months before, he'd made me a slave bracelet, this delicate thing of malachite and tiny tiger's eyes the size of hat pin heads. He'd made my mother a cross broach. And then he made this ring, my engagement ring.
The letter was his proposal, fraught with images he captured, no doubt, from Romantic poets and a pinch of Tolkien folk tales. He was into Renaissance revival, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism who often walked with a staff to class, an Army pack for a book bag, a vision in combat boots and tweed caps. I was his fair maiden in a peasant's dress, to whom he played a theoretical lyre, to whom he sought to prove the eternal love he saw as being real, as being attainable, at the age of 18. Of course, I accepted.
The stone was a garnet, cut in a long diamond shape and held to its post by four prongs. On either side, two curls of silver were hammered down like fluttering banners toward a simple silver band. Beautiful as it was, it was far from practical for daily, consistent wear. I never wanted to take it off, of course, but found myself having no choice as we laid down to sleep. One wrong move and Gage would have a red slash on some bare part of his body when he rolled toward or away from me in his frantic dreams and with his horrid habit of grinding his teeth. In its 3 year duration, the ring became more of a bedside reminder than a symbol of permanence. In less time, it had pretty much lost any meaning it may have had when it was made, in the chicken house behind his parents' house that had been converted into a workshop, under the fevered hands of an 18 year old boy who at one time wanted to spend what life he had to offer with me.
On one of my jaunts to the campus gym, I tied it into the shoe lace of my running shoe and it got lost along the way. I guess I had somewhere I needed to go. So did the stone.