When she is nervous, she reaches left thumb to ring finger absentmindedly. It is an unconscious movement to be sure. She fiddles with the band, rocking it back and forth rhythmically as if reassuring herself that it is still there and that she is not dreaming. She has done this since he first slipped it onto her finger.

Subconscious slams into conscious as the reality hurtles her into the wall. Her gut wrenches a moment, still. The warm hard gold is gone, spirited away to the bottom of a jar relegated to chipped costume jewelry. Her eyes are wrenched to the place of once upon a time.

The white line has disappeared from months of holding her hand out the car window to the sun. But, the indent of 16 years still remains. It feels a permanent marker of lives intertwined and then suddenly, not. She does not need to pinch herself. She is not dreaming. This is real. He has branded her with his mark before moving on.

When she is nervous, she reaches left thumb to ring finger. Only now, she fidgets with the impression on the underside of her knuckle. This scar too will fade away eventually. It is only a matter of time.