Written for SCREAMS!!!
|Janine used to be a wild and crazy, free-spirited executive with her own office on the fifteenth floor. Now she lay half-conscious in a hospital with a missing finger and a husband she never wanted.
She supposed it all started with the ring. She’d always loved and admired the ring when her mother wore it. It featured a marquis cut diamond with light pink stones on each side in the shape of breast cancer awareness ribbons. Janine’s favorite part of the shiny piece was the word “hope” inscribed on the inside of the band. A beautiful reminder of her mother’s brave battle with cancer.
After her mother had stopped breathing two months ago in the county hospital, Janine slipped the ring from her hand and quickly placed it on her own.
She left the hospital that day, relieved. She loved her mother, but the two had shared a complicated, toxic relationship. Her mother had very clear and strange views about how Janine should live her life, and she wasn’t shy about nagging her about them.
Things went well with Janine, her new freedom, and the sparkly ring for a day or two and then the nightmares plagued her nights. She could never fully remember them upon waking, but a strange voice spoke to her every night. It told her to do things only one person in the world would ever ask her to do.
She tried to take the ring off her finger, so she could sell it at the pawn shop, but the hunk of metal wouldn’t budge. It seemed to be holding on, possessing her, owning her.
Then, the worst thing happened. Her boyfriend, who she was about to break up with, proposed. Janine found she couldn’t physically say no. She heard herself agree to the marriage, and her soul died.
A nurse walked in and checked her vitals. Her hand hurt. She wanted to ask for more pain meds, but she didn’t want to let anyone know she’d awakened. She didn't want to see Joe, and she really didn't want to know what her hand looked like.
She married Joe a week after the proposal. She obeyed her new husband like a zombie, unable to argue, or voice disagreement over anything. She hated him. He was lazy and stupid and insecure.
Her mother whispered to her every night and revealed all the plans that she had for Janine. She’d been forced to quit her job. On the outside, she maintained composure, her face a rocky, unemotional prison. She screamed behind the window of her eyes for anyone to notice her there and help her.
The nights when Joe touched her were the worst. She knew her mother hoped that she’d get pregnant. Janine didn’t want to be the same kind of mother to her future children that her own mom was. If she were a mere voiceless prisoner, how could she be anything different?
One day, while Joe was at work, Janine thought about killing herself. She wondered if she’d be able to. So far, she hadn’t had the power to wield her own body, she was a slave to the ring.
That gawdy, horrible ring.
While cooking dinner that night, she acted before the ring could stop her, and sliced her finger off. She remembered feeling thankful that Joe had bought her the super sharp knives the week before.
That happened yesterday. She’d bled a lot because Joe hadn’t come home from work right away. He’d stopped at the bar to flirt with the women and drink with his buddies. At least, that’s what her mother told her as she lay bleeding on the linoleum floor.
She wondered where Joe was now. If she opened her eyes, would he be there, playing the part of the worried husband? She no longer cared. She was free now. Janine looked forward to telling Joe exactly what she thought of him. She blinked her eyes open.
Joe crept over to her bedside.
“You’re awake. Thank God.” He covered her with a blanket. “That was some cooking accident you had. I knew you’d be worried about your ring. Don’t worry, I put it on your other hand.” He beamed down at her and patted her knee. "Can I get you anything? Name it. Anything your little heart desires."
Janine screamed a high pitched ear-splitting scream that seemed to last for eternity. A tear slid down her cheek when she realized that she hadn’t made a sound at all.
Note: The ring mentioned here is a real ring. It belonged to my mother, and I received it after she died. I penned this little tale because she told me to. (just kidding.)