The Wedding Ring

The wedding ring


He signaled the waiter to bring him the bill.  He felt tired.  He looked at the bracelet watch around his wrist and was extremely surprised to notice it was 3:00 AM. 

The thick cigarette smoke in the room bothered his eyes and the oriental music humming in the background  was annoying, disturbing his need for silence. The music was repeating the same languish refrain, sorrowful oriental rhythms.  He threw a bored look around.  The atmosphere, still lively for this late hour, seemed rather bizarre mostly because its patrons.  Who came to this small bar on the border of two worlds, was a peculiar assembly of characters.  Looking around the room, he felt like looking through a kaleidoscope of a human landscape.

 Young men, seated in groups discussing stridently , most likely  football, he could not make the words spoken in Arab dialect ... soldiers who  came to spend  their mercenary money on drinks... prostitutes wearing harsh make up , scant attire, being closely watched from a distance, ,  discreet but attentive,  by their pimps... Couples for the night or a week, seeking an illusory intimacy ...Just like him, men alone, drowning  in alcohol, alone and  absent from everything happening around them...

 A little irritated, he looked again towards the waiter, but no longer caught his eyes.

The first sound you heard was the clink of crystal glasses, which seemed to come alive.  A quick look back and for one-second time seemed dilated. 

A harsh world, noisy, careless, desperate to understand. 

Gestures missing, missing sounds. 

Only the eyes, which until then he paid no attention were now concerned with excitement, looking with inquisitor intensity from each other for the answer to their distress.  The world became a sea of opaque eyes, as if some imaginary atropine dilated and paralyzed them allowing fear to spread across the room. 

Someone’s visceral howling brought the world and time back to present.

 In a fraction of a second, the room exploded into pieces of furniture, cutlery, pots, food, and personal belongings.

He jumped with others, but the movement was broken somehow and he remained standing.

It was only a second of hesitation for him but enough for the torrents of bodies to frantically, without him, rush  to the only escape possible.

Maybe in the last twitch of lucid  consciousness he understood what to do,  not to  act on instinct and run , instead  with a quick gesture managed to take Corinne ‘s ring off , a couple of  seconds before the room  pulverized .

Then he spotted her.  As something, you catch with your eye in the space that appears intermittently between cars of a train going fast.  She was standing up just like him.  She was young, so young ... In such a rush, their  eyes quickly met and fugitive questions  have been answered.  She smiled.

One second of silence, then all cells began screaming and his brain exploded into millions of synapses of pain.  It was dark ...

When he woke up was still dark.  And he recalled immediately the weird sense of not feeling anything, no pain.  Only pressure, without anything concrete on his body.  He was caught in a trap without form.  He realized very quickly he could move one hand...  Without being hindered by anything, the rest of the body remained inaccessible.

 "I'm done ..." has passed through his mind, but felt no remorse.  No fear.

He started to explore the dark that encircled him.  Bizarre, he could not reach his body as if it never existed .He moved his  fingers but found nothing , just dust ... so much dust.

Soon his hand seemed to respond better to commands.  Fingers became more aware of the things in the path.  He started to feel a soft blanket of dust, gravel and then, unexpectedly, the small metal circle.

 "Corinne’s ring ..." His soul bled with the first regret.  Disparate images began to move through his eyes.  He would have wanted to be buried next to her, Corinne  , in the shady cemetery ,with  lime grave stones , old  shadowy chestnut,  iron benches  put there by who knows who.  He remembered her voice, her fragile love making...

But now he was in a foreign country, under a mountain of rubble of what was once a mediocre restaurant on the border, unknown, unknown ... It was dark again...

He woke up to a wail.  A low moan, but still quite strong....  He resumed exploration with his fingers, his only one contact with the surrounding reality.  Dust ... more dust ... He was immersed in a sea of dust.

Then he found a hand.  Very close to his.  The hand was warm.  He got to feel the fingers, palm, and then went looking for the wrist and pulse.  He felt it.  Weak, seldom... almost extinguished but there.

His soul became filled with immense joy next to o a vast sadness.  She was also there, prisoner in the ruble like him, fighting between life and death.  Her fingers, her fine wrist remained inert. 

"Hey, can you hear me?  ...  Hey!"
He felt his mouth full of debris and blood.  Recognized the taste of blood in each attempt to move the tongue. 

"Hey, miss ... can you hear me?”

A slight moan, then the hand he was holding seemed alive.  He squeezed it a little and received immediate response.  Their hands remained in a clinch... only link between two people captive in the dark. 

"How are you miss?  How do you feel?"

"Never better!"

He could not help smile.  His involuntary smile sent a ray of sunshine to his soul.  He squeezed with fondness, with gratitude, with love the hand that has kept him in.

"Are you in pain, miss?"

"No, I do not feel pain ... actually, I do not feel a thing, except for your warm hand ... I think I am pretty damaged ..."

He  thought he heard her laughing slowly. 

"What's your name miss?"

  Alana ... I think my name is Alana or something ..."

"I am Matthew.  Uh, I mean, my name is Matthew ..."

"How bizarre what happened to us Matthew, right?"

"Do not worry, Alana, they will come after us ... you'll see, they’ll find us ... "

And he realized that his voice sounded false, lacking confidence, without certainty, without hope.

"No, I do not think  so Matthew ..."

Hands were holding each other. 

“Why didn’t you run Alana?  You had time ...”

His retina examined recent images.  A review  of the events in a sequence repeated many times, as she was smiling. They were immune to the chaos around them, unconcerned about the crowd and general panic. 

"How can you run away from your own life?"

 He smiled as he found he really liked her simple and convenient approach.  A new understanding of a mutual pact between people who share the same belief became the bond now.

"But you are so young ... so ..." he stopped.  He would have liked to say  so beautiful…

"Nice" whispered a girl.  Then she continued, blank, without intonation

"I’m a prostitute, Matthew"

Did his hand leap?  Oh, how he wanted not to startle.  However, he was not sure ... His fingers curled around hers and closed strong.  Laying so, with his fingers on her thin wrist he felt her weakening pulse. 

"Alana ... Alana!"

No answer ...

"Alana, , Alana , stay with me , stay with me ... ... please!"

 He realized that the only sounds coming out of his mouth full of blood and debris were whispers and wheezing.  Although her hand remained still, he heard her voice as through a dream.

"I am tired Matthew ..."

“Alana don’t fall sleep ...” His hand squeezed her hand but it was obvious she had passed out.  Her pulse fluttered, chaotic, while she sank in a lethargic dreamless, sleep.

Both of them woke up and became alert at some vague noises.  They seemed like coming from nowhere or somewhere above them

"You hear Alana?  here ... we are saved"

This time his voice sounded encouraging, almost happy, full of hope.

"Matthew ... Yes I hear ..."

Her voice was sad, drowned in despair.  To his surprise, he realized that their hands no longer communicated, that they became devoid of emotion, in a waiting without joy.

The voices were closer now  ... but they sounded different.

 In his mind, the reality started to paint itself clearer...  None of them wanted to be saved, they both wanted to die there.  He felt in his brain the roots of revolt take over, while his soul became content.  He did pray for this bitter time to happen for him, he fought with God long time ago and asked for his world to forget about him  ... but her?  So young, so ... should he say again "beautiful”?

 She was so young, so beautiful ... Why didn’t she want life, light, heat, emotion?

 Must do something ... She had to live.  He wanted her to live.  He must do something so she could live ...

Noises from above, more powerful and increasingly close, pierced through his  thoughts ...

" Matthew, it’s  inevitable ..." She raised her hand cupping  his fingers around in a reassuring gesture ...

And then, as a glimpse of the preordained he remembered...The ring!  A word of life and death, a wholesome word of human fate.  His hand began to search feverishly through the carpet dust.  Finally, he found the metal circle.

  He found her finger and the wedding band slid perfectly  ... it fit perfectly.

"You are a good man ... Matthew; you are the best man I ever met ..."

He had nothing to say .Nothing.  Above them, the noise broke out near deafening them.  Now they could be identified, differentiated.  The first is heard a pick hammer ... then the noise of hitting with pickaxes....  At times, he heard dogs barking.  Then voices again.  Increasingly close until the noises became words.  Some he did not understand ... But others, though disparate, sounded clear.

“...  American team...  hello...  anybody ..."

He wanted to shout, to say that she was there, that she is expecting them, that she was close, and that she should be saved.  She must live ... He felt his mouth clinch full of debris, saliva, and blood.  He failed to get even a whistle out.  Everything was completely silent around him now. 
A strong male voice announced:

"Here ... right over here ... come, come ... it's a woman ..."

 Many people started talking at once.  Someone repeated a question, almost irritating, but she could not distinguish ... then strong voice returned in a clear enunciation:

"No, no ... this one is married ... she's wearing a wedding ring ... come on people ... move,  move ... she's still alive"

"Let go of his hand ... let go ... do you understand?  ...  Let go of his hand ... he's dead ma'am, I'm very sorry ... let go now!"
And suddenly the bright light came through...

 "Hey, I hear ... Hey!
   Hey, Miss ... can you hear me?"
 "How are you doing?  How are you?  "
 "Never better!"
 "You in pain ,Miss ?"
 "No, actually I don’t really feel any pain.  Do not feel anything, “

 "What is your name Miss?"
 "Alana, Alana ... I think ... or something ..."

 "Let go of the hand ... let him go ... you know?  Let go of the hand ... lady,  he is dead.  I'm very sorry ... let go”


G_Money   G_Money wrote
on 1/8/2009 12:04:00 PM
Beautiful and sad

Short Story
writing atlantis
Sometimes it feels good not having to explain
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