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The Silver Bond

by on January 5, 2011

I look up from my knees into her dark eyes and reach into my pocket.

Gold, with a bulging sparkly rock, is the traditional choice. Gold is the softest metal: unchanging, eternal and above all else precious. Its dull, deep, yellow lustre has always called to mankind: the ageless symbol of material wealth. But this wasn’t the kind of valuable I had in mind.

The geek generation often chooses titanium: strong, light and uncorrodible. Its incredible toughness was unthinkable to the endless generations before us: a child of our technological genius. It is a better metal: made by us and for us. The flat perfectly machined gleam is elegant and sophisticated but cold. My offer is neither modern nor cold.

Instead I chose silver: the household metal; the metal of cutlery, coins and teapots. Kept as heirlooms but never in a safe; silver is the metal of men and not just kings.

This ring was fashioned from a Victorian shilling I had been given in childhood: good white metal, according to the silversmith, pure and true. The design was from an ancient Celt who, two millennia before an archaeologist unearthed it, had drawn those twisting lines to speak of betrothal.

Silver is reflective, the metal that heals and preserves. It is easily tarnished and easily cleaned. This ring, like me, will wear in the coming decades; and perhaps age and familiarity will deepen its beauty.

I pull the ring from my pocket and hold it up between her eyes and mine.
Smile.
And ask.

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5 Comments
  1. parfles permalink

    This is lovely! I really enjoyed it, the descriptions and character you give to the different metals are perfectly pitched. They really become players in the story, each with a personality and history that fits perfectly. I really enjoyed it and the romance that the protagonist injects into his choice – the right choice for him and for his relationship. Perfect.

    Thank you!

  2. I loved this – meditative and insightful and embodies everything I like about silver as a metal. The prose comes across as measured and balanced, every word in its place, thoughtful and carefully-paced.

    I’m pointing this out because it’s something I’m prone to too: possibly too many of your sentences are pivoted on colons or semicolons, which perfectly suits the tone of the piece, but might become a bit repetitive after a while. I’m also a bit jolted by “flat perfectly machined gleam”, which might parse better as “flat, perfectly-machined gleam”.

    But thank you. The moment is a cliché which you have absolutely rendered into an original and moving thing.

  3. cbraz permalink

    Like the other commenters, I think this is lovely. It is beautiful and gentle, and (as doc says) retells a cliche in a fresh way that brings meaning to the moment.

    I love the way you go through the various typical choices, examining their properties and typical meanings (and the way you use similar grammar in each comparison to connect them). It adds so many layers to the piece, and I learnt a few things about the meanings we have attached to these metals. Thanks 🙂 I also love the way you then move into the specifics of the metal that was used for the ring (the Victorian shilling paragraph).

    The language and style are beautifully crafted. A few example of bits I particularly love: “Its dull, deep, yellow lustre has always called to mankind”, “Its incredible toughness was unthinkable to the endless generations before us: a child of our technological genius” and “This ring, like me, will wear in the coming decades”.

    I also like the simple way you end the piece. The only criticism I have is that I found the first sentence somewhat confusing. I first read it as the narrator looking down at his knees and then up, rather than looking up from where he knelt. The sentence is a little ambiguous, but when I read it to comment it didn’t seem nearly as ambiguous as my first reading, so maybe it was just my mood on the day.

    Thanks for the lovely bit of everyday magic 🙂

  4. nantalith permalink

    I’m not a great fan of romance but I really liked these bits –

    “This ring, like me, will wear in the coming decades;”

    “silver is the metal of men”

  5. I think this is our first non-fantastic romantic piece. Also, are you the only person other than Parfles to attempt something romantic? I can’t remember. There definitely is something romantic about someone thinking so much about the meaning of the engagement ring.

    The description of the gold and silver, the wearing of the ring and aging of the person, are great. As Docinatrix says, it does feel very meditative and thoughtful, and holds everything together.

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