Dulcie looked down at her wrinkled, sun spotted hand and the bare middle finger where the ring had been since her eighteenth year. She felt empty. How could the ring have gone so suddenly? Dulcie racked her brain, retracing mentally the shops she had been to earlier that day. Did it slip off at the pharmacy when she went to refill her scripts or had it fallen off in the frozen food aisle as she reached into the cabinet for a bag of peas? Yes, that must have been where it happened! Panic flooded her as she imagined the topaz ring nestled amongst bags of frozen baby corn and steam-in-the bag broccoli. The irony she thought to herself. Bill had always hated broccoli.
The ring was the first serious gift Bill had ever given to her. Courting during a summer shared with a world war had heightened the intensity of first love. Dulcie remembered the days spent at the beach, the heat of the sun relieved only by the dash into the foamy waves, the water cool on pink skin. Nights spent at the pictures, watching the news reel at the start of the film and always silently praying for the boys overseas especially for her Bill.
Bill had given her the topaz ring after a Sunday lunch at her parents’ house, the old weatherboard cottage she’d been born in on Livingstone Street. The taste of her mother’s roast lamb and baked potatoes still lingered deliciously in her mouth as she and Bill walked into the back garden. Nervously clearing his throat, Bill had pulled from his trouser pocket a red velvet ring box.