35. RingAfter he washed his hands, he looked at his wedding ring, laying next to the sink. And, for whatever reason, he then really looked at it, taking in what it meant.

There was the physicality of it — a circular band that was the only bit of jewelry that he regularly wore, that had worn a slight groove in his fourth finger, and left its inverse tan when it was off.

There was the societal function — proclaiming that he was spoken for, that he was pair bonded, theoretically, for life.

There was the spiritual aspect of it — a band that never begins and never ends, but continues both finite and infinite.

But what was the true meaning of it, he wondered. What did it mean to him, as a person, a primate on a rock revolving around a continuing nuclear explosion hurtling through space for as long as was allowed?

It was a simple thing, this bit of metal, but when he stopped to think about it — really stopped and really contemplated — it simply reminded him of her. Even when she wasn’t there, she was, in a way. She had a permanent spot in his mind and in his soul, of course, but the ring was a physical reminder, ever so slight, that she was there for him, always. A statement of purpose and a statement of fact.

Mindful of all this, he put the ring back on his finger, and felt it settle into the groove it had formed.