It was a consolation prize on your sister’s ninth birthday, when you were still young enough to think that presents for one meant presents for all. She got the pair of pink and purple pajamas and new books, and you got the deep purple amethyst ring which you were also young enough to believe was set in real gold. It’s too tiny now, and looks out of place as a pinky ring. But then you sat on your bed and tried it on every single finger, tilting your hand back and forth beneath the yellow light of your bedside lamp, deciding where it looked best. Friends ooh-ed and aah-ed and asked to try it on when you wore it to Ms. Donovan’s class the next day. You’d slide it off and breathe on it every few minutes, each time followed by the rub of a sleeve over the tiny oval shaped stone to keep it glinting in the fluorescent classroom lights.
Now the amethyst is chipped at both ends, the missing chunks leaving behind sharp edges and small curved planes. It’s scratched, dented, and the original shine has dulled. The pair of C-shaped curlicues next to the stone are the only ones still bright. The others grow gradually smaller and increasingly tarnished with wear. Long periods of time being forgotten under carpets or on top of bookcases among papers, photographs and snowglobes add to its gray tint of neglect. Inside the band, the gold color is dulled to a matte yellow and a flaking dark green. Sitting in your palm, it’s just a cool circle of cheap metal, hardly weighing anything.
You look at it, twisting it around above the second knuckle of your middle finger. Your grandma was so happy to give it to you, nestled in its little blue box. Second-grade-you was even happier to receive it. At a glance, it looks like something you might have won at carnival game on the Santa Monica pier, or a gift that would’ve fallen out of a Christmas cracker. It’s a would-be throwaway gift, but it’s been eight years, and you’re still twirling the scuffed band around each finger under your bedside lamp.