Glancing down, she takes inventory of the rings on the fingers of both her hands. With a pinch, she wiggles each ring around its respective finger. A rearrangement, a playful experimentation to see which fingers the rings fit upon best, upon which finger each looks best. This cold early morning, her hands are endowed with six rings in total. On the ring finger of her left hand resides a black gold, halo-type ring of diamonds surrounding an oval emerald. The single band splits into two and connects atop her finger to grasp the oval setting that houses the emerald haloed by diamonds. The split portions of the black gold band are also set with diamonds. The position of the ring upon the left hand’s ring finger holds great significance to others, she knows, but for her, the finger that fits, is the finger that’s best. On the pointer finger of the same hand sits a stacked pair of rose gold bands. One of the two is plain rose gold, the other houses a tiny row of tiny black spinels. On her right hand she wears two stacked rings on the middle finger, one in yellow gold, the other in white, both solid bands. And then, on the ring finger of her right hand sits an extremely thin, plain silver band. The thinness makes the ring nearly impossible to detect from a short distance.
She continues the fidgeting reconfiguration. The black gold with emerald ring fits on both ring fingers. All of the stacking rings fit on both middle, pointer, and thumb fingers. The silver band cannot be removed. Of course, she knows this already, since, she agreed to the terms that accompanied the ring’s acceptance. Still, nevertheless, she gives the silver ring a little tug to see if she or it has changed shape or size. The ring barely moves. She spins the ring around on the finger. Warm, the ring begins to glow with a lambent, inner luminosity coming not from the ring itself but rather, from the flesh behind the ring. Cold, the ring turns a bright purple and soon thereafter, returns to its normal silver color. Sighing a deep sigh, she leans back, closes her eyes, and feels the sunlight warm her face through the window within which she sits.
It’s cold out there, she reckons, since the temperature chills her skin in here. If she didn’t know it, however, the scene outside looks warm and lively. Cross legged, she sets all of the now-removed rings onto the insides of her heels. With her right hand raised in examination, she examines the silver ring one more time and notices all of the ring lines on her other fingers from her other rings. She gives the silver ring another little pull. It slides forward farther than it ever has before. She gasps a small gasp as a jolt of pain hits her in the forehead right between her eyes. She whispers an inaudible prayer as swirls and bursts of light dance all around her, making her feel as though she is falling. The familiar whisper of the Mystic, We have found her, and she has found you. Time stands still for no one. Time moves for no one. The essence of time is of the essence. We have found you.
Heart racing, she bolts upright onto the floor. She looks to the cushioned seat in the bay window upon which she remembers being seated, sees her rings scattered about but does not care to retrieve them. She lifts the ring on her right hand to her face. The ring flashes a pop of purple light. She’s pulled back as if shoved from the front. Quickly, she rolls over on the floor and gathers her body into a standing position. The words of the Mystic ring throughout the room. We have found her. We have found you. She runs out of the room, down the hall, into her personal space. The windows and blinds are widely ajar. The cold, chilled winter air streams in. She shivers as she makes her way to close them.
A small, low rumbling, squeaking growl. Hands pressed firmly upon the now-shut window frame, she slowly turns toward the sound. Frozen at the sight of the thing that produced the growl, she presses herself back as tightly against the window pane as she physically can without moving much. With both hands behind her back, she spins the silver ring upon her finger. The baby-sized, adult-sounding brown bear paces calmly in front of her. Her breath, quick and shallow, begins to return to a steady pace. The two hold eye contact. For half a moment, perhaps the time a cat needs to finish its breakfast, she whispers pleas for the bear to let her go. The bear refuses but does not attack. Finally, she hears the Mystic’s call once again. Meticulous, she closes her eyes while slowly lowering her arms from behind her back. In a split second, she throws her right hand toward the bear; its eyes dart to follow the assumed movement of the supposedly thrown thing, and in that instant, she bolts toward the bear in an attempt to get passed it. Just as she makes her move, the bear sees its error and turns over itself to reach a paw out to snatch her. A flash. A popping crack of shattering glass. She’s gone.