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  • Ken Zen

Ashes Ring

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"Will you marry this woman?" the priest asked. "Love her and be loyal to her, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death do you part?"

"I will," Marvin replied.

"And will you marry this man?" the priest turned to the bride. "Love him and be loyal to him, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death do you part?"

"I will," Zoe answered.

"Now, you may exchange rings," the priest declared.

Marvin gently placed the ring on Zoe's finger, surrounded by the priest and the cheering guests. As he looked into his bride's smiling face, it felt like a familiar scene, and memories of his first marriage flooded his mind.

In the beginning, he and his ex-wife married in this church. The priest standing before them now had presided over their wedding. They had made the same vows, believing they would be bound forever. But life is unpredictable, and accidents happen. Sadly, his ex-wife fell ill three years into their marriage and died. The pain had haunted him for years until he met Zoe, whose calming presence reminded him of his former spouse.

The priest instructed Marvin to kiss the bride, and he obliged. As their lips touched, he heard a voice whisper his name: "Marvin."

Startled, Marvin pulled back, and it sounded like his ex-wife's voice.

Confused, Zoe looked at him. "Did you hear something?"

Marvin wiped his forehead. "Maybe I was mistaken. Let's move on. We have guests to attend to."

The day was filled with busyness and joy. Late at night, when they finally returned home, they both rushed to take a relaxing bath. Zoe had left her ring on the dresser, which Marvin held in his hand. Inspired by their unique love, he decided to have a pair of diamond rings designed and ordered—one-of-a-kind, symbolising their special bond.

But once again, the voice whispered, "Marvin, remember to have a glass of wine to improve blood circulation."

Drinking a glass of wine before bed had been a habit his ex-wife had cultivated for him.

"And Marvin, don't stay in the bath too long," the voice continued. It reminded him of the time he had fainted in the bathroom, a memory his ex-wife had warned him about.

Marvin pondered the mysterious occurrences, unsure if it was his imagination or something more profound. Regardless, he embraced his present happiness and cherished the love he had found with Zoe.

"Marvin, I want to hear you sing. Sing the one you're best at," his ex-wife requested, knowing that "The Moon Represents My Heart" was his most excellent performance. She used to listen to him hum that song each night before drifting off to sleep, finding solace and safety in its familiar melody.



Her voice echoed in his ears as if their life together was still unfolding, steady and familiar. He found comfort in this familiarity. However, Zoe's voice shattered the tranquillity. "Marvin, what's the matter with you?"

Marvin snapped back to reality, his gaze vacant. "It's nothing, and I'm just exhausted."

He returned to bed, but everything felt wrong. The person beside him should have been his ex-wife, not Zoe. This place was meant to be reserved for his ex-wife for a lifetime.

"You should sleep in the next room," Marvin said.

Zoe was taken aback. "What did you say? Why are you asking me to sleep in the next room?"

"Because that's where my ex-wife belongs," Marvin repeated. His ex-wife's voice began to resound in his ears once again: "Marvin, let the woman leave."

"But your ex-wife is no longer here," Zoe said incredulously. "She's gone, Marvin!"

"Who said I'm gone? Marvin, I'm still here," the voice insisted.

"She's still here! Can't you hear me?" Marvin's voice trembled with excitement. "She said she's still here!"

Zoe stared at him, her eyes filled with fear. "Are you... Are you possessed? Whose voice is that?"

Marvin's gaze fixated on a corner of the room. His eyes softened as if he saw something beyond reality. "Zoe, I thought I would never see her again, but how wonderful she's back. I'm sorry, let's get a divorce!"

The word "divorce" escaped his lips, leaving Zoe stunned. She couldn't comprehend what had happened to the man standing before her. Marvin seemed possessed, not himself.

The following day, they went through the formalities of divorce. Marvin acted decisively, settling their assets with careful consideration. He ensured Zoe was provided for, allowing her to live comfortably. Zoe understood that once a person's heart is lost, there's no use forcing it back. However, one question lingered: What had happened to Marvin? Whose voice had he been hearing?

After Marvin's divorce, his friends noticed a change in him. He would often stare into space for long periods and converse with himself. Once, when the town officer visited his office to deliver documents, he overheard Marvin uttering a name—faintly reminiscent of his ex-wife's. It seemed that he couldn't let go of her.

Yet, there was a contradiction. If Marvin still longed for his ex-wife, why would he frequently kiss the diamond ring on his finger? That very ring symbolised his love for Zoe.

News of Marvin's behaviour began circulating, and gossip filled the air at his workplace. But Marvin remained indifferent, continuing his routine—going to work, eating, returning home—and speaking to his ex-wife's voice as if they were still together. This continued until one day...

Marvin had a habit of reading before bed. On this particular day, he recalled a book he had purchased during his honeymoon with his ex-wife. He wanted to reread it but found a document tucked within its pages—an invoice from a jewellery store in a shopping mall bearing his ex-wife's name. It was the same store where he had customised Zoe's wedding ring.

Filled with curiosity, Marvin visited the jewellery store and presented the invoice. With regret, the store manager greeted him and disclosed a secret: "Mr Marvin, there's something we haven't told you. When your ex-wife was seriously ill, she entrusted a friend to bring her ashes to our store. She wanted us to create a diamond using a portion of her ashes, to be set in a ring for you after her passing. She knew you would remarry and hoped that this diamond, made from her ashes, would symbolise her eternal presence with you."

Marvin stood there, stunned, as his ex-wife's voice echoed in his mind: "Marvin, I'll always be there..."

He gazed at the ring on his finger, with the exquisitely cut diamond sparkling like his wife's radiant smile—a light capable of dispelling all darkness.

"Will you marry this woman?" the priest asked. "Love her and be loyal to her, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death do you part?"

"I will," Marvin responded.

"And will you marry this man?" the priest asked Zoe. "Love him and be loyal to him, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until death do you part?"

"I will," Zoe affirmed.

In life's ebb and flow, through poverty or wealth, sickness or health, they remained united, inseparable even in death.

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