The moral standards were without question as this new relationship was to be absolutely innocent and pure. If this was to be a lasting love relationship then moral boundaries had to be firmly established and understanding those boundaries made the relationship one of anticipation and excitement as they continued to learn as much as possible about each other and connected families.
Matilda always wore an exquisite ring with a bright red stone. John was awestruck with the reflection of the ring in the sun and the moonlight and on occasion saw the stone reflected in her beautiful brown eyes. John had never mentioned the ring to Matilda but intuitively she knew he was very interested.
The night was cool, the wind chilled the body and the moon was sporadic as darkened clouds whipped the night sky with threats of rain. They were both deep in thought as they held hands and kicked small stones while walking the graveled road. Crossing a concrete bridge that spanned a slow moving river, Matilda made the effort to stop and then leaning over the railings while still deep in thought they glimpsed the slow moving river through sporadic moonlight. John knew that this was much more than just the ‘silent treatment’ and was patiently waiting for Matilda to break the silence. They released hands and facing each other they embraced.
John saw what he thought was a tear and breaking the silence asked, “Is there anything wrong? Have I offended you?” Now the tears were quite visible but Matilda tried to force a smile. To consummate their relationship within the established boundaries, Matilda removed her ring and pressed it into his palm and said for the very first time, “John, I love you! I really, really love you!” “This is more than an infatuation,” thought John. “This must be love.” John could swear that while holding the ring it was burning into the flesh of his right palm and in a stumbling choice of words he blurted out rather soothingly, “Matilda, I love you too. Let this ring be a consummation of our love and may nothing come between us…ever.”
John slowly brought the ring to his lips as an indication that he had received it with the greatest of intention – to love and to cherish. Slowly moving toward each other their lips met and suddenly the chill of the dampness of a darkened night gave way to the feelings of loves warmth and the ‘silent’ treatment gave way to euphoria that only young and innocent love could explain. The next day John put the ring on a piece of shopping string and proudly wore it as a commitment of his love for Matilda.
As their relationship continued to bloom and blossom, Matilda was introduced to John’s family and became a regular guest during the Sunday evening dinner. The ring often became a subject for discussion as John proudly talked about his relationship with Matilda and how the magnetic powers of a red stone embedded in a golden setting helped solidify and enhance an innocent but life-changing experience. Much more life-changing than John could ever envision. John loved the ring and at night while laying awake in bed he would press it against his chest in the approximate location of his heart and would repeat, “Martha, I love you! I love you so much!” John would drift off to sleep with the ring pressed against his chest and often dreamed about the bright red stone.
The warm days of summer gave way to the coolness of autumn and then the frigid temperatures of Winter. The long walks back to Matilda’s house during Winter was always exciting as they would sometimes push each other into snow banks or brush light snow into each other’s face without causing injury or much discomfort and then they would lovingly brush off the snow and John would often place a soft kiss on her cold cheek and whisper, “I love you.” With the coming of spring, John and Matilda talked extensively about their future and whether or not this relationship was for life. As far as John was concerned there was no other woman on the planet for him. The ring still proved to be a tremendous magnet that kept their hearts so lovingly intertwined they could feel each other’s pulse.
With the cold days of winter now gone and the warm sunshine of spring removing the remnants of ice, snow and chill, John and Matilda were able to see each other more often as rival road hockey games again became a regular activity between the two schools. Matilda was always a cheerleader for John’s team. John’s prowess as a road hockey player made her giddy with excitement. It was not unusual to hear her shout over all the other fans, “Go John! Go!” At the end of a very hard fought game where John’s team lost by two goals, Matilda called John to the side and said, “John, I must see you tonight. We need to talk.” Something about her body language, her voice tone and the abruptness of her leaving sent a very cold feeling right down John’s spinal column. He reached toward the ring and pressed it against his heart.
John was restless as he ate his supper and was not impressed when one of his siblings retorted, “What’s wrong Johnny? Not getting along with Matilda?” John stormed from the table, ran from the kitchen out to the wood shed. He was asking himself a thousand questions about why she wanted to see him tonight and could not think of any logical explanation other than just another date. “No,” thought John, “there is something just not right. He opened his shirt and holding the ring between thumb and finger he said, “I will never give you up. No sir! Never in a thousand years! You are the magnet that keeps our love alive.”
The evening sun was setting as John approached their regular meeting place and up the road he saw her. Her gait was different. Slow. Her shoulders were slumped. Still, she look absolutely gorgeous as the setting sun was reflected in her beautiful brown eyes and John thought immediately of the reflection of the ring with the large red stone. Again, reaching toward his chest he pressed it against his heart. She was now within speaking distance and John was about to say something when Matilda ran toward him and held him as tightly as she possibly could she simply sobbed.
John felt his body trembling but remained silent. She lifted her face to gently kiss John and with her cheeks saturated with warm and salty tears trembling lips spoke the words, “John. I’m so sorry. Our relationship is over.” John felt his heart break and unable to speak he simply allowed his tears to trickle down his cheeks as he looked deeply into the most beautiful eyes ever created by God. They were now both speechless and no words in the English language could ever express what this young couple was feeling. John reached for the shopping string and was about to remove it from his neck when Matilda said, “No John! Keep it!” John hesitated but removed the shopping string and before passing it to Matilda he kissed it and quickly recalled the most wonderful night in his life when Matilda gave it to him with the added verbiage, “John, I love.” With trembling fingers she reached out and received the most precious symbol of love that John had ever know. Standing on an embankment above the ocean, Matilda shouted almost in anger, “No! No! I can’t take it. It is yours,” and with tremendous force she threw the ring and the shopping string toward the ocean never to be seen again.
After some emotional moments they walked off in opposite directions.
Almost fifty years later, John, who had left the island, came back for a community gathering in his home town. While there, he was asked the question, “Do you remember this lady?” John looked and though the eyes looked familiar he could not remember… and then she spoke: “Do you remember the ring with the big red stone?” Wow! For the John’s and the Matilda’s out there, remember that the sun is always shining.