It had spent most of it’s time in pockets or purses; its golden surface constantly rubbed clean by fabric. It never had a chance to get old; never seen gloriously upon the finger of a loved woman. For over a decade, it remained tucked away and hidden; an unspoken secret that Mary carried with her constantly. It wasn’t shame, it was more like an artifact, except instead of reminding her of some long-lost civilization, it reminded her of a dream. Not her dream, someone else’s, but one that was pleasant enough that she liked to be reminded of it.
Arthur’s dream of freedom had been so naïve, she thought. Freedom is… a tricky thing; powerful and wild and terrifying. Mary was happy with her life, with her little cage as he’d called it. The cage was safe, and she was content, and unlike him, she wasn’t slowly dying. The ring reminded her that she had chosen her life; that there had been some other grand option. She thinks that she had chosen the right one, and it feels nice to have the ring to remind her of that.
Giving it away hadn’t been as difficult as she thought it would be. Seeing him again; facing the harsh reminder of his harsh life; she had realized that the romantic notions she’d had were nothing but that: just notions. Foolish fancy. They’d have had no real life together; the freedom and choice she had put upon a pedestal as some prize she had opted out of was nothing but a dented and rusted trophy. It was not something you’d want to keep around at all. She was never more sure she had made the right decision all those years ago. So, into an envelope it went along with the last remaining picture she had of Arthur. When she had dropped it off at the post office, Mary had felt a little hollow, but she knew it was all for the best.
John fiddled with the ring often in the months and weeks leading up to his proposal. It was strange how such a small piece of metal could be so heavy. He would never forget the weight of it, no matter how many years would pass. Secretly, he cherished it more than anything he could ever possess. This ring was all that was left of Arthur’s dreams and hopes for happiness. The devil could offer him all the riches in the universe; God could offer him eternity, and John would not part with this little piece of Arthur he had left.
Abigail shared the weight gladly, though with less reverence. To her the ring was just the representation, but the ranch and their life was the reality. No matter how much bitterness she would hold in her heart towards John over the years, she never held the ring hostage. She held Arthur’s dreams dearly too. It grew worn on her finger; it became refined and saw more sunlight and happiness in the few years she wore it than in the first two decades of its life.
She took it off when John died. With him gone, so were her dreams and so was her strength and she couldn’t carry the weight on her own. She took what money she had and bought a strong silver chain. She bestowed the ring on Jack with teary eyes. He would be strong enough. He deserved to live Arthur’s dream.