The Engagement Ring

The Engagement Ring


Fred cheated on her lover and he had to pay for that.



The Engagement Ring

Tarak Ghosh


Fred was astounded as he leaned on the rail of his balcony and saw the young girl standing by the cedar tree. At the same time his senses were assaulted with a variety of smells conflicting with each other. He inhaled deeply, but could not detect the source of the smell from where it was coming. He looked again at the girl. She was standing there like a wooden statue.  His thoughts flashed back to the first time he had seen her when he had been walking home from his stag night along the grass-land. That time it had been so easy to blame the drink, but this time was different … he was stone cold sober. Fred looked at the sky. The moon was only bare sliver of gray in the midst of the scattered gems.

Fred Williams and his wife Rosie had been living here from the last month. It was an old cottage, located just outside the city. Fred had no money for buying a new building in the city. Finally, he managed to buy this old cottage from Mrs. Jane Clarke, one of his clients.

Fred walked back to his bedroom and checked the clock. It showed 8.30 pm. He sat down on a couch and buried his head in his hands as if he was thinking something. Stone cold displeasure filled his face when he raised his head. Minutes after, he raced downstairs, opened the front door and sprinted to the tree. He was enveloped immediately in shadows. He looked around, but there was nobody. She had disappeared. It was as though she had never been there. The earth and fallen leaves around the foot of the tree were undisturbed.

Stepping over small branches, and slipping between bushes, his eyes searched for the sign of her presence. But he could not find anything that could prove she was there.

For a moment, his body seemed to freeze with fear, but he tried to reassure himself that it was only a trick of the moonlight, a simple optical illusion. He tried to banish the thoughts from his mind. It wasn’t until two months later Fred saw her again. 

Rosie, his beloved had been distraught by a phone call earlier that day that her father was seriously ill. Without a second thought for herself, she packed an overnight bag and arranged for a taxi to take her to the train station. Unfortunately, Fred was unable to accompany her due to his heavy work commitment.

Prior to retiring for the night, he had phoned Rosie, and she had seemed in brighter spirits as her father was responding to treatment, and his condition was improving.

Fred felt relief wash over him by her change of mood. Rosie had always been close to her father as her mother had died in childbirth, and he had raised her single-handedly. Her father had been the first-person Rosie had contacted when she learned she was pregnant and Fred knew it would devastate her if her father passed away before his grandchild was born.

After a moment, his mind shifted back to present. Raising himself from his chair Fred replaced the phone onto its charger and started to walk towards his study door feeling blissful.  His hand reached for the light switch as he gazed proudly around the room. He had worked hard to build his business, and he knew if he could secure his next contact, he would be able to provide a comfortable life for his wife and un-born child.

Realizing he hadn’t closed the window, Fred sighed and walked back across the study. He leaned forward and pulled the window to, and as he did so a movement by the cedar tree caught his attention.

Once again, the girl was standing under the tree, and although she had her back to him, he knew without a shadow of doubt it was the same girl he had seen before. Fred stood for just a moment while deciding what he should do next. But he instinctively felt drawn towards her. He didn’t know why, but he felt it was imperative to talk to her.

As Fred neared the girl turned around and the essence of rose water seemed to fill the air whilst a dark cloud covered the face of the moon, and a mild breeze blew away the dry leaves under the tree.

Watching her very slowly and carefully, Fred stammered, “J … Judy,” “but … but you’re -” He could not complete the sentence and screamed in great fear.

"I think the word you want is dead.” she said mockingly. “You and your trollop must have been overjoyed by the news.” A strange smile crept across her face.

Fred did not speak for a couple of minutes. There was a silence for some time, after which Fred broke the ice and said, “I … we never thought you would kill yourself. We didn't mean to hurt you. Rosie and I.”

“You don’t care who you hurt, do you Fred. It was you who hurt and humiliated me and left me standing at the altar ... not Rosie �" you. The pain of losing you was horrendous, and I felt as though life was worthless without you. That’s how you made me feel.” She looked at Fred long and hard.   

Pointing at her finger, Judy looked adoringly into his eyes and said, "I remember the day you gave me this engagement ring.”

Judy paused and slid the ring off her finger before continuing, “You said it was the symbol of our unity."

I truly meant it when I said those words, Judy,” Fred whimpered. “I never thought there would be any other woman for me. Rosie and I were as shocked as you when we discovered our feelings for each other.”

She leaned forward, clasped Fred’s hand and whispered, “Shh, stop worrying, Fred. We may come to an agreement. After tonight, we will be united once more my darling. Our love was meant to be. The engagement ring will be the bridge between us.” Her eyes welled up, and tears started to slowly trickle down her cheek.

 “No,” Fred screamed in panic as he felt Judy push the ring onto his finger. Her cold hand upon his hand, was freezing to his skin, and leeching his own body’s warmth away. Fred shook his head quickly in denial, embracing the icy touch. Judy pulled back her cold hand with a strange smile and continued with icy tones, “The ring will help you to understand how I felt in my last days. If you try to remove the ring, it will tighten, and it will feel as though someone has grabbed your throat and is choking you. Should you try to cut off your finger, your body will feel like it is being hacked into tiny pieces."

Fred breathed a sigh of relief, as long as he didn’t touch the ring, he would be alright he reasoned.

“Oh Fred, you were never very bright, were you? I knew you would be wise enough to leave the ring alone, but I am relying on Rosie’s jealousy. Her hormones should be soaring right now, and I am sure if she can’t persuade you to remove the ring, she will try to remove it one way or another. Remember, I will be waiting my darling.”

“No! Keep away from me,” Fred cried out with a mix of anger and fear in his voice. The voice echoed around the stones.

He slowly stepped back and continued, “You are a trickster. The Judy I knew would never hurt me like this.”

 As he raced back to his cottage Judy shouted after him, “And the Fred I knew was a man of his word. I know Fred, there are so many good things to remember and there are too many bad things to forget. I tried to forget the good things.”

Fred didn’t waste any time upon his return to the cottage he locked and bolted all the doors and secured all the windows. Suddenly he could hear his own voice as if it was coming from the past... "You're afraid of what just happened between us. Afraid of what I made you feel and how you made me feel. But I did nothing wrong." Moments after, Fred could hear the faint voice of Judy, it echoed down his spine, and stirred his flesh.... "Listen Fred, love is always larger than life and it is immortal."

Suddenly, an image flashed in his mind. Judy and Fred were walking back to the parking lot hand in hand. The sun was setting on the horizon, throwing red rays up across the sky. Judy was partly illuminated by the glow of the setting sun. Moments after, his vision blurred, and wavered. Fred blinked rapidly trying to clear it and finally discovered that he had been standing alone in the room.  He was confused if that had really happened or it had been just a dream. He shook his head like a lunatic man.

Afterwards, he went to the bathroom and rubbed soap liberally around the ring to try to ease it off. This task proved fruitless, so he went to the kitchen and tried margarine, cooking oil and washing up liquid, but the only thing he got for his troubles was a very sore throat and difficulty breathing.

Fred dropped to his knees on the kitchen floor sobbing and rocking back and forth. He was in the depth of despair, almost broken by the guilt.

“Please Judy, if you truly loved me, forgive me. How can I tell Rosie that I will not be able to hold her hand when she gives birth … or help her to raise our child? She doesn’t deserve to be a lone parent like her father ….”

The strong scent of rose water wafting through the room silenced Fred, and he sat whimpering. Suddenly, he could hear something that makes him freeze. A door was shut in the house followed by footsteps on the stairway. Fred closed his eyes. He could hear the footsteps stopped by him. He slowly opened his eyes and screamed in great fear. Judy once again stood over him sneering. She watched him out of the corner of her eye for a moment and finally whispered, "I do not want to look back. However, what is the use of ripping up old stories, Fred? There was no romance, no love, there was only hunger.  "She paused for a moment.

Then she looked into his eyes directly and said, “You can make this right, Fred. You can be mine for eternity, or I will take the love of your life �" your un-born child. After all, Rosie is still very young, and you can go on to have more children. Whereas, you destroyed every chance I had of having a child. Now, it is the proper time to repay your debt.”


Rosie knew instinctively that something was not right as she was unable to gain access to the cottage on her return. She called his name through the letterbox several times and hammered on the front door and windows with her fists. When there was still no reply she walked around the outside of the building peering through the windows.

By the time she had reached the kitchen window she felt torn between decisions as to whether to phone the police, or not. Although, she knew Fred was reliable and would never let her down unless something bad had happened to him; she didn’t know whether the police would share her opinion or if she would be viewed as being neurotic and hormonal.

Leaning forward Rosie peered through the glass and scanned the kitchen. It was then she spotted him hunched over in the corner of the room.

Stepping back from the window, she phoned the emergency services and then picked up a large boulder from the rockery and hurled it at the window.

After removing several large shards of glass from the window frame, she dragged a wooden garden chair under the window to make it easier for her to climb through.

As she walked across the room, she felt uneasy as she smelt the essence of rose water … this was the perfume Judy, her old-school friend had always loved.

Kneeling down by Fred, she could see the terror etched on his face. Gently, she pulled him towards her so that his head was cradled in her lap and stroked his hair as she rocked back and forward on her heels. Fred would never be able to be part of his family's life again. Rosie thought and could feel the tears welling in her eyes.

Although, the doctors and police drew the conclusion that Fred had committed suicide as there was no evidence of forced entry or foul play Rosie felt sure that Judy had claimed back what she thought had been rightly hers.





My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register


It kept me glued to the story. There are a few very minor grammatical errors. Overall, very good story.

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I enjoyed this haunting tale, I love short stories with twists in the tale, very tales of the unexpected...good stuff :)

Posted 2 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


2 Years Ago

Thank you very much KTBradley.

2 Years Ago

Thank you Len Jeffrey for reading my story with a great care.

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


2 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on April 2, 2017
Last Updated on April 2, 2017
Tags: supernatural short story, short story, love and revenge



Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Tarak Ghosh is a published author, senior journalist and short film director. His first book “Poster” was published from Kolkata, India in 1986 when he was a student of High School. He gra.. more..