A Ring for My Fiancé (Una Sortija Para Mi Novia) by Humberto Padró (Puerto Rico)
That morning (it was already eleven!), José Miguel woke up and decided to buy a wedding ring for his girlfriend. This, for José Miguel Arzeno, who was rich, young, unemployed, would be the easiest thing in the world. All it would take would be him getting his “roadster” from the garage and in a flash he could go to the most accredited jewelry store in the world. But we should note that nothing was as easy as it might seem, because before he could obtain the ring, José Miguel would need to find somebody to give it to. To say things in a clearer way- José Miguel did not have a girlfriend.
Nor had he ever had one. Of course, we shouldn’t consider him a saint… There you have it, as a matter of fact, his “cohort in escapades” (this is what he called his automobile), was his partner in many a grand and daring an adventure.
Nevertheless, it would be reasonable to believe that this decision of his to buy a ring for his fiancé, was making him, without doubt, give up his restless Don Juan sort of lifestyle to devote himself to a final, definite adventure. But… where would his fiancé be?
In the city, José Miguel entered “The Emerald,” which was considered the most aristocratic shop in the city. It was the first time that he had visited a shop of this kind, because, despite his enviable position, jewels had never really attracted his attention.
While he waited for somebody to assist him, José Miguel was content to look, without admiration, at the profusion of jewels in their various forms and hues that stood out against the velvet backgrounds of their cases, like constellations of stars in a velvet black night sky. In his innocent, disinterested browsing, José Miguel went so far as to leaf through a sales book that was on the glass counter. The name of the saleswoman was written across the cover.
“What can I help you with, gentleman?” asked a young woman, who seemed to be the saleswoman. But what a saleswoman!
“I wanted to find a ring for my fiancé,” José Miguel responded, and at the same time he hurried to drop the sales book onto the table which he had absentmindedly taken from the counter. And afterward, as he was handing it to the young woman, embarrassed, he asked:
“This is your sales book, right?”
“Well, yes, and yours if this is what you want…”
“No, thank you, I don’t need it,” said José Miguel, smiling.
“Well, of course,” added the lady with wit. “You see, in this sales book lies my happiness.”
“Well… the greater the sales the greater my earnings,” she responded, not having found another way to answer.
They found each other with their eyes and smiled.
“Well, let’s return to the ring,” the saleswoman said, who –is it necessary to say this?- seemed to José Miguel to be exceptionally beautiful.
“Yes, could you be so good as to show me a few?”
“What size are you searching for?”
“Oh, how silly am I! I don’t seem to remember,” José Miguel tried to excuse himself.
“Well, does your fiancé have fingers that are somewhat like mine?” asked the sales woman, showing him her hand innocently.
“Let me see,” said José Miguel, daring to caress her fine, long fingers, which were crowned with long polished nails, lightly. They were made (without a doubt) to touch sapphires and diamonds.
“Oh! You have dangerous hands,” said José Miguel after a while, letting her hands go.
“Really? Why is that?” she asked with interest.
“Oh! Because they can be capable of driving whomever they so desire to distraction.”
“You don’t say.”
And they continued laughing.
“Well, and you believe that since the ring fits me so well that it will fit your fiancé?”
“Yes, it is likely.”
And the beautiful sales woman went to get the case of sample rings. Meanwhile, José Miguel studied her fabulously modeled figure with devotion.
“Here you will need to choose… Don’t you think that this one is especially beautiful?” said the young woman, showing him a beautiful ring made of diamonds.
“It must be, if you think so. Here, try it on.”
“It fits me like a glove,” she said mischievously.
“And how much does it cost?” asked José Miguel.
“One thousand two hundred dollars.”
“Very well. I’ll take it.”
“And wouldn’t you like to engrave it?”
“Oh! Of course, I forgot.”
“What are the initials of your fiancé?”
José Miguel looked at the sales book that was on the counter. He said:
“Perfect,” said the sales woman, writing the three initials onto a yellow card, which she tied to the ring.
“When can I come back?” asked José Miguel.
“For the ring… you mean,” she commented.
“Well, certainly. That is to say… if you don’t decided something else.”
They laughed again.
“You can come back this afternoon at five.”
“Very well. Until five then.”
“Goodbye and thank you.”
There is no reason to be surprised that at , José Miguel had still not presented himself in the store to reclaim his ring. The watch and the hours were two things that had never preoccupied him. It was lucky that his “friend in escapades” was flying down the road at that time, like one possessed by the devil.
The shop was almost closed by the time that José Miguel entered the jewelry store, breathless.
“If you had been a moment later, you wouldn’t have found us here,” said the beautiful employee who had sold him the ring that morning. And, handing him the case with the ring, she added:
“Here you are. I am certain that she will be pleased.”
“Thank you,” José Miguel responded, as he put the case into his vest pocket.
And, seeing that the sales woman was getting ready to leave, José Miguel asked her:
“Would you allow me to give you a ride to your house? After all, you lent me your hands…”
“If it’s not an inconvenience.”
And they left.
A Disbelieving Fiancé
“Miss, forgive me that I have to tell you one thing,” José Miguel was saying to the beautiful young lady as the automobile was gliding smoothly along the avenue.
“Provided that your fiancé will not hear,” she responded with witty irony.
“Rosa María, you are a simply adorable creature…”
“But… how do you know my name?” she asked with surprise.
“Rosa María Estrades… is that not your name?”
“Exactly. But how did you find this out?”
“I read it this morning on your sales book.”
“Well, how clever! But be careful with your compliments, because your fiancé’s ring is listening and she might reveal them to her, and well, if this should happen…!”
“Rosa María, for God’s sake! Don’t make fun of me. You are the only one I could ever want. I don’t have another fiancé.”
“Ha! Ha! Ha! How silly! And then, if you don’t have another fiancé, then how could you explain the initials on the ring?”
“Very easily. They are yours.”
And, saying this, José Miguel found the ring in his vest pocket and showed it to her, adding:
“This ring is for you, Rosa María Estrades, R. M. E. Rosa María Estrades… Do you understand the initials now?”
And Rosa María, doing all she could to understand, asked, not believing:
“But… is this possible?”
“Yes,” responded José Miguel with a triumphant smile, “as possible as saying that all my wishes would be fulfilled with a single kiss of yours.”
I bear witness that she complied, over and over again, with his wish.
The rest is left to the imagination of the reader.