So Long As We Both Live
by Kellyann Ye
The ring is still on her finger, for God’s sake.
Her bouquet is, incomprehensibly, still in one piece, the ribbon holding it together frayed and dirtied from the road, roses and baby’s breath crumpled. But its parts aren’t strewn across the intersection.
Neither is she, he reminds himself. Her body, the car, the too-fancy white dress - they’re all reasonably intact. The only things strewn across the asphalt are skid marks from her car wheels and near-invisible patches of ice, dark as foreshadowing. For better or for worse, rings the voice of the solemnizer, that morning’s memory, tinny in his head like he’s running out of air.
He’d been the last one to touch that ring, he thinks with a sense of rising hysteria. The only one ever to touch that ring. His fingerprints, nobody else’s, not even hers, not even the ring-bearer’s, not even now as one of the policemen snaps on gloves to extract it from her hand.
Damn, he wants to say, damn karma, damn all of this. But his breath keeps leaving him in dry, shuddering gasps, and he can’t manage the syllables.
That ring had been in his pocket for weeks and weeks while he tried to find the right words, the right time. He’d had it custom-made, antler and wood because she hates - hated - flashy things. He does too - the shouts of the emergency responders have long since faded into a numbing background, but the whirling lights of the ambulance split his vision red-black-blue whenever he looks its way.
A policewoman approaches him, mouth opening and closing but he can’t hear her for the dizzying, sick sound of traffic rushing by, one empty, icy lane away from them. He understands, eventually, that she’s asking if he has the ability to identify this woman.
“I do,” he says, voice so hoarse it disappears.