“That’s it, Mum. Your room’s finally tidied.”
“Thank you, love.”
Janet folded her arms and gazed round at her Mum’s bedroom. “I don’t know how you and Dad put up with that mess for so long.”
Her Mum put down her dusting cloth and stood beside her. “You just get busy. You know, chasing after you lot…”
“Which room’s next, then?”
“Wait a minute… Did you tidy up my dresser table?”
“Where did you put my engagement ring?”
“It’s on your finger, Mum.” Janet smiled.
“No, not that one, the first one your Dad gave me. It was right here…”
“I didn’t see any ring there.”
“Well, it wasn’t a proper ring. He didn’t have one when he proposed. Just a can of ginger. I must have told you the story, how he pulled off the ring-pull and put it on my finger…”
“Oh.” Her smile faded.
“Did you see it?”
“I just thought it was rubbish. I put it in with the recycling…”
“Today’s recycling day…”
They both looked at the window.
“I’ll go!” She ran downstairs, in the distance she could hear the sound of bins being uncerimoniously dumped down, of a lorry engine revving.
The blue bin was still where she’d left it on the pavement. She hurried over and opened the lid, looked down at a dangerous mess of sharp tin lids, crushed plastic bottles and paper.
She remembered the ring pull. Remembered throwing it in with empty drinks cans left over from the previous night and carrying them outside. Cans that had had their ring pulls removed almost as a habit.
She carefully lifted objects out, watching for sharp edges. Wondering if the ring pull might have fallen down the side to the bottom of the tall bin.
She saw the bin lorry turn into their street. She could always wheel the bin back to the house…
All for a ring pull…! Was her Mum really that sentimental? Actually, yes, she probably was. Part of the reason the house was so full of stuff, she never liked to throw anything away.
She lifted a box out and… There! She saw it. Or was it?
She lifted out the ring pull and examined it. Was it the same one from the dresser? They all looked the same.
The bin lorry drew closer. Making a snap decision, she pocketed the ring pull and shoved the box back in the bin along with the rest of the recycling she’d extracted.
Back upstairs she forced a smile. “Found it, Mum!”
“Oh, well done you! Time for a cuppa, I think.”
“Sounds like a plan.” She carefully laid the ring pull on the dresser.
Later that evening she managed to get her Dad alone while he washed the dishes. “I think I might have thrown Mum’s engagement ring out today, you know the ring pull you gave her,” she told him in a quiet voice.
He gave her a strange look. “Does she know?”
He hushed her. “Just take another ring pull from a can. She’ll never know the difference.”
“I don’t know how many times I’ve had to replace that thing…”
Copyright Mark Anderson Smith 2017 http://www.dragonlake.co.uk/
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Ginger: Scot’s slang for soda pop
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