by Minglu Zeng
Translated by Xiaoman Liu
The 7th alarm fire had been finally put out. The building now was destroyed in the deadly fire. Smoke filled the air and everybody was struggling to breathe.
Eddie Wood, Elena’s husband’s body was carried out by firefighters. He was trapped and killed in the basement by the fire.
Elena’s cheekbones were high, and she didn’t smile often. At the moment she even looked icy cold. Smoke drifted behind her.
Everybody around her bowed their heads in silence.
Elena stayed her eyes on Eddie’s facial burns for a very short time. Quickly, something attracted her attention—-Eddie’s ring finger. The wedding ring which had always stayed on his ring finger now was gone!
“How come the ring on Eddie’s finger disappeared?” Elena asked the firefighter, Charlie, Eddie’s colleague.
“Oh, yes, strange enough, I have never seen him take it off!” Richard remembered that Eddie told him once, that how beautiful his wife was, and what a lucky man he was. One time when someone brought up the topic of getting married and divorced, Eddie lowered his head and took a glance at his ring and said, “I will never ever leave Elena.”
“Please help me find it, I need that ring!” Elena asked hastily.
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Woods, we will find the ring for you!” Eddie died in the fire on duty, and now his widow stood beside him. Eddie’s colleagues had no reason not to do so.
Richard called up several of his colleagues and then entered the dangerous building, a hideous mess.
“Hey, what are you guys doing there? ” Richard’s supervisor followed them and asked loudly.
“We are looking for Eddie’s wedding ring inside.”
Richard’s supervisor would have stopped them if it was for anything else, but seeing that Eddie was lying there stiff and his widow standing by, the supervisor was not determined enough to hold them back. So he could only shout out, “Be very careful!”
The scene was very messy. Ashes had covered here and there. Richard and his co-workers had worked with Eddie to fight the fire together, now they did their best to trace Eddie’s footprints to figure out where the ring could possibly be. After two hours, they found nothing. For safety purposes, the supervisor via cell phone ordered his subordinates to leave the ruins immediately. Just right before they came out, the youngest firefighter, Jon, cried out, “Oh, my god! There it is!”
When they were all refreshed, they came over to take a look. Sure enough, they saw the round golden ring shine perfectly under a burned pole!
Those smoke-stained faces now cracked a smile.
“Mrs. Woods, we found it, we found Eddie’s wedding ring! ” Richard cried out loud, unable to deal with blood dripping off his hand—-he was injured while searching for the ring, and he also forgot the fatigue and tension of the last few days. Now he was pleased and excited. He finally could do something valuable for his late colleague who died in the course of his duty, bringing a ray of happiness to his widow.
Elena took the wedding ring from Richard, and her eyes sparkled. She put the ring on her ring finger, and the ring seemed a little too large on her slim finger.
After a while, Elena took the ring off, and suddenly she lifted her head, and burst into a sad laugh. “Oh, you poor dumb ring, you are free now, and me too!”
Editor’s Note on A Wedding Ring:
A Wedding Ring is not the first piece of Minglu Zeng’s work published by Eastlit. Previous work includes:
- A Descendant of the Emperor Shang Tang appeared in Eastlit December 2014.
- At the Frozen Lakeshore and China was in Eastlit February 2015.
- The Boy of Mt. Puh featured in Eastlit April 2015.
- Happy Encounters in a Rainy Chinese Night was in Eastlit December 2015.