Jennifer turned forty a week ago.

Her depression had lingered for far longer. She wasn’t just depressed about her age but her life in general. Still single and struggling in the same dead end job for twelve years; she didn’t own a thing or think she’d ever be able to. Politics promised change and reform that never arrived. No one seemed to remember the people they were hurting. She felt as if she were one more pebble on the vast beach of greed.

Sitting at a cramped desk, she got up to use the restroom. Despite working on the fifth floor, she liked to sneak up to the executive restrooms on the fourteenth floor. Grabbing some paper to look like she was making a delivery, she took the elevator upstairs. This wasn’t like the employee restrooms, poorly lit with strange smells coming from each stall, this was the only place at her job that she felt someone cared about what people needed. It seemed as if they took special care to create an environment of comfort and sophistication. No need to check for paper in a stall or wipe down a seat before sitting.

When she finished in the bathroom and came out to wash her hands she noticed a shiny glint from the corner of her eye. Discarding the paper towel she picked up what appeared to be the largest diamond ring she had ever seen. Swiftly, without thinking she put the ring in her pocket and went back to the fifth floor and to her desk. She fingered it the rest of the day. She went directly home, dropped her bags, petted her cat and went into her bathroom. She took the ring from her pocket and put it on her finger. It was beautiful. There was no doubt in her mind it was real. Someone must have taken it off while washing their hands and forgotten it. She wondered how long it would be before they discovered it was missing. It didn’t matter to Jennifer, a person who could afford to be that careless with something as valuable as this ring could afford to buy another.

She had no intention of giving it back.

She put it in a dish in her bathroom cabinet and left it there to admire whenever she wanted. She didn’t dare wear it.  The person who left it might come looking for it or notice it around the office. She found it and it was hers now. A noticed had been posted in the office “Lost my favorite ring, personally valued family heirloom, reward” and a phone number. Ignoring it, Jennifer went back to work. Several months passed and things began to change in Jennifer’s life. A girlfriend tipped her to a job opening in a company across town, and like magic she bid her old job farewell. She was now dating a nice guy she met at her new favorite restaurant.

A year later she was promoted and her boyfriend asked her to marry him.  Since it was a special occasion, she decided to wear her ring just this once. The party was in a grand hotel. After dinner she went into the bathroom to wash her hands, and placed it on the edge of the sink. Excited, she left without it. By the time she remembered and rushed back the ring was gone. Her fiancé promised to give her a bigger and better ring. She left a note at the hotel desk that read. “Lost, my favorite ring, extreme personal value, reward” and her number. No one ever called.

Precious © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

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