Glinting green in the sunlight flooding the classroom, the ring sat secure around Ana’s finger. Her fourth finger, to be precise. After all, that’s why we call it the ring finger.
We would never admit it, but we all let our eyes admire that ring, even if it meant getting distracted from the teacher’s lecture on how humans went from being hunters and gatherers with dangerous, exciting lives to boring farmers and city dwellers.
Among ourselves we whispered about what the ring could mean. Many of us put our speculation into texts.
“She must’ve said yes to Landon or something bc i heard yesterday that he was thinking ab–“
“Do you think Patrick gave it to her? Like i know she talks a lot with him in between classes so that would make a lot of sense–“
“I mean she’s not getting married but idk if she’d be getting into some sort of promise ring deal with some guy–“
Furious thumbs tapping away at our glass screens, we didn’t notice Ana slumping low and lower in her chair perched at the front of the class. Come to think of it, she was the only besides the professor not on their phone.
“How much you think it must’ve cost????”
“Somewhere in the thousands would be my guess”
“Trying to show off how–“
“It’s not even that pretty it’s just a ring and from where i’m sitting it looks kinda tacky–“
The teacher clicked on and on through dozens of PowerPoint slides all full of small text that we had no motivation to decipher.
Ana looked out the window nearest to her, which was still pretty far away. The emerald ring was shining as bright as ever. With her other hand, she began twisting the ring. Round and around. It stayed on her finger, though. She was just playing with it.
“It’s like she’s trying to make us all envious of–“
“Diamonds are prettier. Or sapphires. Or–“
We went on. Until we didn’t. Because we couldn’t. The class had ended, with an announcement by our teacher that she’d be giving us five extra credit points on the paper due next Wednesday if we included at least a passing reference to the domestication of the goat.
Packing up our book bags, we agreed Ana needed an intervention on her ring. We’d have to give her an honest talking-to.
“What do you guys want?” she asked when we surrounded her outside the classroom doorway.
“Nice ring,” we said in unison.
“Oh.” She stared at us gazing back at her. “Um, thanks.”
“Who’d you get it from?”
Her eyes bugged.
“How much did it cost?” we asked, refusing to let up. “It was Patrick, right? Or Landon? Or–“
“You don’t have to brag about how much money he has, either. And he wouldn’t be anything of a boyfriend, either, if wasn’t for your–“
“Three thousand bucks? Four thousand? Five–“
“He sure must expect some sort of commitment out of you for getting that–“
Ana slid the ring off her finger and hurled it into the closest wastebasket. The ring bounced off the rim with a metallic ping.
Glaring at us and wiping her eyes, Ana said, “I don’t know. I just did.”
That was in answer to our question: “What the hell did you do that for?”
Some of us bent over the wastebasket to see if we could recover the ring. “Who throws away something that valuable?” we asked ourselves, and a low, pitying murmur of mourning rose through our ranks.
“I got it because I thought it would shut you all up.”
“Shut us up?”
“I thought it would make you stop asking me. You know, about when? When? When? And with Who? Who? Who?”
“Then why’d you throw it away?”
“Because obviously even having a relationship and being in a relationship with Nobody doesn’t shut you people up.” She forced us apart and walked away down the hall, her sandals making an angry flop with each step.
We looked after her and wondered and speculated with our flashing thumbs as to who this Nobody she was dating could be.