BY DAWN DEBRAAL
Copyright is held by the author.
ARBOR LEE had one thing going for him. A one-karat flawless diamond his Grandma Grace left him, much to his mother’s and sister’s chagrin. Mama told him he should give the ring to his sister after grandma died, but his grandmother told him not to bend to her daughter’s wishes. Tradition had it that the eldest child, male or female got the ring. Arbor had it turned into an earring with a safety screw back so he wouldn’t lose it.
People going through the checkout would comment on his earring. Several old duffers would ask him if he was engaged to his ear. Arbor laughed along with them, he knew they were just jealous of him.
Erlene Pepperdine caught Arbor’s eye. When the time came, he took his earring down to Hansen’s Jewelry Store and had it made into a beautiful engagement ring. Erlene took one look at the ring and said, “Yes!” She brought her hand back admiring the sparkle of the ring on her finger. She knew what it meant to Arbor and also to his sister Hannah. She couldn’t wait to run into Hannah and have to cough when she really didn’t have a tickle in her throat, to show off the ring. Hannah and she fell out in high school when Hannah stole Erlene’s boyfriend Brandon.
It happened sooner than later. Both Hannah and Erlene were invited to a former classmates’ baby shower. Erlene made sure everyone knew she and Arbor were engaged and flashed the ring. She hid behind her hand when she laughed, making sure the ring caught Hannah’s eye. Hannah’s eye was caught, but she was polite enough to pretend she was happy about the engagement, while secretly stewing for the rest of the shower.
After the party they met outside. Erlene called out to Hannah. “We’re going to be sisters-in-law!”
Hannah again tried to be gracious. “Yes, that’s right.”
“Isn’t my ring beautiful?” Erlene waved her hand in Hannah’s face.
“It was my grandmother’s ring. It’s lovely,” Hannah replied. Erlene pretended she needed to talk to another girl and left Hannah standing on the walk alone. Hannah pulled out her phone calling her best friend Maggie. “Lets’ meet at Ram’s Horn.” Maggie agreed to meet her there and was waiting at the bar when Hannah walked through the doors. They ordered their drinks while Hannah went on and on about Erlene.
Suddenly, Maggie’s jaw dropped. “Well, speak of the devil!” Hannah turned to see Erlene walk in with a handsome young man.
“My he’s good looking!” Maggie purred. He was very attentive to Erlene too, thought Hannah. She waited until Erlene made her way to the bathroom. Hannah was standing at the sink when Erlene came out of the stall.
“Why Hannah Lee! Imagine that! We haven’t seen each other in years, and here we meet twice in one day!”
“Who are you with?” Hannah was in no mood to mince words.
“Just one of my many admirers,” Erline answered. She wasn’t even embarrassed.
“But you’re engaged to Arbor,” Hannah retorted.
“And?” Erlene looked at her oddly with her eyebrows raised.
“I’ll tell him,” Hannah said abruptly.
“No, you won’t. If I break the engagement, Arbor gets the ring, but if Arbor breaks the engagement, I get the ring. The law is on my side.” Erlene moved around Hannah and washed her hands in the sink.
“But it was my grandmother’s ring,” Hannah said helplessly, knowing Erlene was correct.
“Oh Honey,” Erlene said sadly. “Aren’t you precious! So worried about taking things that don’t belong to you and how that’s not right. I’ll bet Brandon Belding would laugh with me on that one.” Erlene turned to the mirror puffing up her hair. Satisfied with what she saw, she walked out of the bathroom leaving Hannah standing there open-mouthed.