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The Emerald Ring
I woke abruptly. Fear started to seep into my heart as my pulse started to quicken its pace. I could feel the sweat budding on my skin. Something is not right. Within a few seconds, I was sitting up in bed, listening. All I could hear was the melodious chirp of a warm summer night. My window was open, and a light breeze playfully ruffled the thrown bed sheets. Why should I be fearful? Not a single soul was awake in the house. There were only two of us; yet I felt a sense that there was another, more masculine figure in the home…
Before I could think anything more, a blood-curdling shriek echoed down the hallway. My heart skipped a beat. Hannah! My body froze with fear. Please be a dream... my feet were drumming against the wood floor as I approached my destination, fear glowing in my eyes. I practically yanked my daughter’s door off of its hinges as I skidded into her bedroom.
Gulping, I could feel myself slowly starting to faint with horror. The pink bedroom was littered with clothes and torn drawings of cute little ponies and houses Hannah had drawn that following morning. Finally, I forced my eyes to gaze upon the same bed where my little girl should have been sleeping peacefully. The sheets were thrown back with haste, drooping off of the bed like a bunch of rags. Before my mind absorbed what had truly happened, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. My knees buckled. One dark figure slipped silently out of the shattered window. I rushed forward, frantically looking for a sign of the mysterious robber. However, there was not a single soul in sight.
Then, as I thudded around Hannah’s room, I spotted a pair of icy blue eyes staring me down like a hawk from under the bed. My heart immediately lifted as a familiar shape leaped into my arms. “Hannah! Honey, are you all right?” I asked my daughter. Hannah only nodded; she looked too scared to utter a single word. I hugged her with a fierce embrace, brushing her head with my hand. “It’s okay, baby. Everything is going to be all right.” I soothed.
Hannah suddenly let out a cry. “Mommy! That scary man stole my ring!”
My heart felt as it was to break with love for this little one at that very moment. However, behind my relieved face, my eyes narrowed. Why in the world would someone break into a house, especially this one, for one stupid ring? It seemed completely out of character. There has to be a reason behind this…
Trying not to alarm Hannah any more than she already was, I slowly shifted through her ballet jewelry box. As I gently opened it, a small wad of paper fluttered to the ground. The box started to play its sweet little tune as the ballerina tottered in circles. Hannah let out a giggle. I silently gave a sigh of relief. She was finally starting to calm down; the stress in her eyes had almost completely vanished. With a smile, I turned back to the jewelry. Almost all of the pieces were useless little trinkets; not worth any more than a few pennies. However, something immediately caught my eye: the corner pouch was completely empty.
Brushing myself off, I crawled back over to Hannah. “What did your favorite ring look like again?”
The little six year-old looked up at the ceiling. “It was the green one!”
My mind started to whirr. “Honey, was it the green and silver one?”
Hannah nodded sadly. “The one with the carving of bird wings and scribbles on the inside of it.”
That was when reality hit me: I knew that ring. It was the only ring out of the entire collection that was actually worth something. It was my mother’s ring. I never knew how long I had been holding onto that old thing, but Hannah had always loved looking at it when she was only 3. It was an easy decision to hand it over to my daughter. However, in this very moment, my heart started to fill with dread. I did not know why, but that ring suddenly seemed to have some importance in my life. From that point on, I secretly called it the emerald ring.
Hannah was eying the small shriveled paper clutched deep in my hand. Cocking her head, she asked, “Mommy, what is that?”
Busted. My mind started shooting off warning flares, but amongst the chaos, the power of guilt was the strongest. “It’s nothing Hannah,” I announced quickly. You are too young to understand, my mind finished. The truth was, I had no clue what to expect. The small paper could have just been a blank piece that had just so happened to be trapped inside the jewelry box. However, deep in my heart, I knew the truth: this paper was going to be of some importance.
In that moment, heavy fists started banging at the door. Hannah and I jumped to our feet in alarm. “Hannah, stay here.”
“Should I hide under the bed?” Hannah suggested.
I nodded. “I promise that nothing bad will ever happen to you.” Before I left the room, I kissed my little girl on the cheek.
By the time I had opened to the door, there were dents the size of baseballs in the beautiful facing. If it had been any other day, I would have given those creeps a piece of my mind. However, today was not any normal day.
“Are you Mrs. Willowroth?” the first police officer asked. His eyes reflected his annoyance.
“Yes sir,” I bowed my head. “And what brings you here on this beautiful night?”
The second officer’s face held no mercy. “We were called here by your neighbor because she told us that she had a scream coming from your child’s bedroom window. She also told us that she saw a masked figure leave from that same window a few seconds later, carrying nothing of importance.
I had to blink back my fury. There had been something of importance! If only they knew…
The first officer’s voice cut my thoughts short. “Well, since we shall be asking you and your daughter a few questions, allow me to introduce myself: I am Sheriff Perryton, and my partner here is Sheriff Riley.”
As I shook hands with Sheriff Riley, a shiver went down my spine. His eyes were darker than onyx, yet held a mysterious grey hue around its edges. His face was covered with permanent scars and age wrinkles, and his skin seemed to glow eerily in the light of the stars...
I shook my head. “You have got to be kidding,” my mind echoed. “This is reality, for crying out loud! You’re acting as if you are living in a horror film.”
This comment sent me back in time to the premiere opening of some horror film before Hannah was born. It was the first movie I had ever watched with my husband, Todd, before he took the job he is in now. That movie was still vibrant in my mind because the lead actress and actor sort of looked like us. I can remember shivering with fear all the way home, and having nightmares about it for three days straight. Although I’m not a big fan of horror movies, my mind had just never gotten over the horror of that film. Now, with Todd gone on another business trip to Canada, I was stuck in this situation with Hannah right in the middle of it.
“Madam? Are you all right?” my mind finally came back to reality. This guy must think I am going into shock or something. This could have been quite true, but I was never to find out.
“Yes, I’m all right. So, what do want to ask me?”
“What happened tonight, and where is your daughter?”
“She’s upstairs. I’ll go get her.”
Fear erupted for the third time that night. How in the world were they to believe my story? At least I had Hannah as a witness… “Hannah! It’s okay to come out!”
Time seemed to tick by slower than it had been in my entire life. I counted the seconds: 1….2…….3………4…………5…….My heart started to beat harder and faster against my ribs. “Hannah?” my voice cracked with terror.
To my relief, a small voice answered. “Mommy? Is that you?”
“Yes honey. A couple of nice police officers are here to ask us a few questions.”
With a great amount of coaxing, Hannah crawled out from under the bed like a scared cat. Her eyes were huge bowls of light. “How long will this take?”
“It will only take a few minutes.” I paused. “Hannah, you have been the bravest little girl tonight than I have ever known. I love you.”
Hannah’s eyes lit up like a thousand stars as she clasped me for what seemed like an eternity in a sweet embrace. I let my eyes flutter closed in those moments. It felt wonderful not to be thinking of anything: Mother’s ring, the robber, Hannah’s scream, even Todd’s job. I just was able to stand there, drinking in the love of my daughter. As her small fingers loosened, I grabbed her by the shoulders. “Honey, we’ll get through this, I promise.” And maybe we’ll find the importance of the ring too.