“The Rings,” by Jennifer Woodworth
Jan01

“The Rings,” by Jennifer Woodworth

“The Rings” My husband was a carpenter with hands so big he could wrap them all the way around me. Since I had put off getting my husband’s wedding ring until the day before the wedding, the artist made it for me in one day. He was not a jeweler. He made art with metal and stone. He made my husband a thick, wide, rounded ring.This ring will always feel good on his hand, even when he’s working. I inscribed it in my own hand. I made bronze sculpture, so I understood the crafting of metal. I watched the artist turn the little gold bar into a circle, join it together, and polish it to hide the weld. I wanted to remember the heat that made this ring, so I asked him not to hide the weld on the inside. My inscription began there and ended there. The weld inside is also the joining of lives. The ring was heavy and warm like a ripe peach in my hand. I made the ring with soft gold. When he gets old, it will tell the story of his life. We were married in my husband’s house in the winter. He was an excellent hunter. He was proud of the huge antlers he hung on his walls. They were scarred and sometimes broken—courtship, clashes, close calls. The only heat came from the woodstove my husband had built. It seemed strange to me that he had hidden and polished his welds on his stove—I loved the jagged scars welds made: I sought them out; I created them; I wanted to see the mystery of proud flesh healing in my work. I uncurled my fingers when my husband said, “With this ring, I thee wed.” I was afraid to look at his face, so I watched the two cats sleeping under the woodstove instead. It occurred to me suddenly that my husband wouldn’t have hidden the welds underneath the stove. He made his vows while he nudged a lacy antique ring over my knuckle. The ring was elegant and unusual. I thought it was perfect for me. I stared at my new ring. I was silent. I looked up, searching for my husband’s face, but all I could find were the antlers. They had grown wild and twisted. Turns, forks, splits, scars, broken places. I lost my voice in the thicket. When I could speak again, I said, “With this ring, I thee wed,” and made my vows. I slipped the heavy ring on my husband’s giant hand. Whenever I saw that wide band on his hand, I remembered that we were just...

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Jennifer Woodworth Awarded Spring 2009 Orlando Flash Fiction Prize

Read Jennifer’s winning flash fiction story, “The Rings,” here.

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