A Cursed Ring - Evelyn Turnbaugh '17

Her hands looked like something given to someone in need of comfort. Wrinkled and swollen, with juices trapped under the skin and age spots facing towards the sun. Rings trapped on a finger that was swollen past the point of return, so that no remedy, not even butter, could remove them. Yet those hands of comfort, gnarled like bittersweet apples, continued to work.

Flying through tasks, put into motion from a will stronger than steel, creating food for her family. Every Thanksgiving she drove up with her husband and a car full of food to meet their small family. The most requested tasks of her were to make a pie, the gravy, and to peel onions. Apple pie was the top choice, and when the crisp apples had been freshly picked and peeled the pie overflowed with juice and delicious flavor. Her hands steadily peeled the apples that she then cored and cut with a knife. The pie crust was handmade with love, and rolled to perfection that cooked to crisp but soft on the tongue. She made her masterpiece in a glass dish, handled with such care that there was never cause to worry if one day it would be dropped. Once the couple arrived her next task was to make the gravy. Her daughter had long before decided that cutting up the innards of a dead bird was not her forte, so the task fell to her steady hands. Unappetizing as this makes gravy sound, somehow her swollen, speckled hands found a way to add just the right ingredients. Flour was carefully poured into the mix and she sliced up meat as she went. The last part of her duties came with another task no one wanted to face: peeling and cutting onions. Though this was dreaded by everyone in the family, no words of unhappiness came from her mouth, no falter was shown by her fingers, and no tears could be seen. Through every task her ring never dirtied, and her hands never failed.

One fateful day in May her husband tired, his hands shook but his body more so. His feet faltered when they had never before, and he fell. Her hands could not save him, but her ring remained. And when he rose again it was not in this life, so she began to tire as he had. Her hands began to shake with every apple peel that dropped uncontested to the floor. Without control her hands slipped dangerously on the overly ripe apples that had overstayed their welcome under the sweltering sun. Cuts appeared on the places age spots did not cover, and bruises filled her skin with a pigment that contrasted the ashy look descending over her. Store-bought crust sunk in on itself and was filled with apples that had long since gone bad. The spices she added covered her hands and ring which had developed a tremor she could not control. No longer could she bear to look at death, and her weakness overtook her will. Her famous gravy ceased to exist, as the technique to had disappeared with the sheen of her ring. But as always, her swollen fingers clasped the ring as if nothing else in this world mattered. The onions were left unpeeled, as her fear of her own inaptitude left her with nothing left but a ring. But the tears that the onions caused could be seen in her eyes, and her cheeks sunk in as food lost its appeal. Through every task her ring was dirtied, and her hands continuously failed.

Her hands looked like something that had gone bad, wrinkled, darkened with death, cut from mishaps, and fingers swollen to hold on to her one remaining happiness. Every day she tires because there is no one left on this earth that can steady her shaking hands. The most requested foods for her to make are left unmade, with blank spaces on the table to show what once had been. Through her failing body and shaking hands nothing remains but the ring. When she tires, just as her husband did, nothing will remain but the ring and the love of a forgotten family.