Platinum Tears

By Marianne Hales Harding

“Polishing gold is pretty easy—you just scrape off the top layer to reveal the shiny metal underneath. This ring is platinum so it’s never going to wear down. You don’t polish platinum. You actually have to fill in the scrapes, which is a lengthy process. And this inscription: it’s very deep. That’ll take forever to fill in. But you need to do it if you’re going to sell it.”

She looked at me sympathetically, not needing to ask why I was selling the men’s wedding band and mercifully avoiding all small talk.

Platinum. Of course I engraved it in platinum.

I held the wide band to the light so I could read the sentiment one last time.

It was how I had signed all my love letters.

It was what I had engraved in the platinum part of my heart, an engraving I have only partially filled in. You heard her—it’s a lengthy process.

I wondered if wiping it off the ring would make it official. Do I now, officially, no longer “remain affectionately” his? Or was that just one more little layer of platinum, filling in the deep etchings in the most private part of my heart?

It didn’t really hit me until I was on to the next errand, standing in the bread aisle at Walmart.

Because it was Walmart, I stood there and openly wept.

There is no shame at Walmart. No judgment for pajama pants or fading tattoos or women once again filling the chips and scratches in their hearts with tears and tears, platinum tears.