Love is always a promise...
When I was young, I had this ring. It was passed on to me as a birthday gift; it had been in the family for ages. It was about the greatest thing I owned.
One day, years later, I woke up to realize I had lost it. Really lost it.
I’m still not sure exactly when it happened; I accidentally misplaced it so many times. Sometimes I even forgot about it, somehow. But I had always remembered, and it had always turned up again.
Until now. It was really gone this time.
I was miserable. I knew what the cost would be. No one could ever lose the ring and live. It was only a matter of time…
The enemy found me. They bound me hand and foot, and led me away.
I was thrown down onto the wooden beam. I could feel the cold iron nail resting, ready, against my skin. The enemy raised the hammer.
“Stop!” someone shouted.
Gasping for breath, I turned my head to see.
It was a young man. Tall, broad-shouldered, with dark hair and eyes with his soul in them.
“Take me,” he said, his eyes clamped on the enemy’s face.
The enemy was upset at the interruption. “What d’you mean, barging in here like this?”
“Take me,” the man repeated. “Let her go.”
He met my eyes. My heart stopped. I used to think I knew what love meant…
There was confusion in the enemy’s face, but only for a moment; it turned quickly into glee. He grabbed my arm and yanked me to my feet. “Get out of here!” he yelled, giving me a shove.
I stumbled a pace or two away.
The enemy was chuckling, murmuring to himself. “Stupid, stupid man... Maybe you don’t understand—maybe you think I don’t understand. But I do… And I’m going to win.”
He grabbed the young man and threw him down where I had been lying. I saw the nail resting, ready, against his skin. The enemy raised the hammer.
The young man screamed too. My voice was lost in his. And then I couldn’t make a sound because the gushing blood was turning my stomach over.
I wanted to get up and knock the enemy to the other side of the world and drag the young man away to somewhere safe. But I couldn’t move, just like I couldn’t speak. In fact, it was like there was a wall between us, now. An invisible wall. I couldn’t get through it; I couldn’t knock it down.
All I could do was sit and watch. Watch as this man’s hands and feet took the nails meant for mine. Watch as the cross was lifted up, my cross, stretching his limbs and knocking the breath of his lungs.
Watch and cry.
He met my eyes again, and I felt his gaze all the way down to my soul, filling me up like sunshine in April, or a beautiful dream in the dark. And it was taking everything in my apart.
It seemed to me his blood was falling over me…despite my distance, despite the wall. Falling over my heart, over my life. It hurt worse than anything I’d ever felt before. And it was beautiful. Yes, somehow, even the pain itself was beautiful.
It was he and I and everything else had fallen down, fallen away. I had never been so little, before; so vulnerable. It was a frightening thing. And it was beautiful.
Love came crashing down like an avalanche, casting all my fears to the other side of the world. I used to think I knew what love meant… I used to think I knew myself.
I didn’t know the first thing.
I cried harder, then. Because I wasn’t worth dying for, and he was dying for me. And his dying was making me worthy.
It was the break of day. My favorite time. I was walking in the garden.
Someone called my name. “Aisling…”
I turned, and saw him standing there. He was literally glowing, and the marks in his hands and feet and side were standing out starkly, deep red holes.
He was holding something. He came nearer me, and slipped it on my finger.
My ring. The ring I had lost.
“This belongs to you,” he said. “You dropped it.”
I didn’t know what to say; I thought my remorse would knock me over.
“It’s not just a ring, Aisling,” he went on. “It’s a promise. The promise of my love for you. Remember what I went through to give it back to you, and know that my promises are true.”