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She closed the door to her apartment and leaned heavily against it. It had been just as difficult as she had expected; awkward, uncomfortable, distressing. She had expected to cry all the way home but had somehow held the tears back until now. She slid down the door to sit on the floor, sobbing.

As the tears gradually subsided once more, she lifted her head up from her knees and looked around her living room. She swallowed, hard, and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand as she stood up.

She fetched a black plastic bin bag from the kitchen cupboard and braced herself, leaning on the door frame to take a deep breath before she began.

The wedding magazines were the first to go, swept from their neat pile on the coffee table straight into the bag. Next were the sample invitations, the list of planned guests and the caterers’ quotes. She swept through the apartment, bagging all the remnants of her plans, then threw the bag into a corner.

She went into the bathroom and leaned on the sink, her tear-stained face staring back at her from the mirror. She took a few deep breaths and then splashed cool water over her face, trying to reduce the puffiness around her eyes so that she would look halfway normal again. As she did so she realised the ring was still on her finger.

She stared at her hand for a moment, then carefully soaped her finger so the ring would slide off easily. She’d worn it for so long, it wouldn’t easily come off otherwise. She held it in her hand and looked at it. To be fair, it was quite a pretty ring, although now she could look at it rationally she was pretty sure that it hadn’t cost him the two months’ income they say you’re supposed to spend on an engagement ring. She turned the tap off with one hand, still looking at the engagement ring as she wandered back into the living room.

She held it up to the light, watching the way the sunshine caught the diamonds (if they even were real diamonds) as she turned it this way and that. Then, with a snort, she threw it on the floor and went to the kitchen to get some ice cream.

That night she slept better than she had done for months.

A ring on carpet

© Kari Fay