“Hey, be careful! You might break it,” snapped Dawn with a scowl. But Elise was not listening. She looked dreamily at the ring decorating her fingers, envisioning herself going to her old schoolmates’ gathering this evening wearing it….
“May I borrow in for a few hours? I want to wear it at my old friends’ gathering tonight at Hilton,” she asked Dawn. Dawn looked at her in sheer disbelief. “What? You know it costs RM 40,000 or not? Over my dead body!”
Elise looked hurt. The vision of her being the centre of attention, with all the eyes marvelling enviously at her was too much. Tearily she pleaded “Just for tonight, I swear I’ll take good care of it. I’ll return it to you as soon as the party is over. I swear.” Daisy, who hated to see people crying, immediately helped her friend. “Yes, Dawn, imagine how her friends would look down on her if she appear without any jewellery,” she said. “Dawn, you should help her. Your husband is in Singapore now, right? I’m sure he won’t know if you lend it to Elise for just tonight,” said Pamela matter-of-factly.
“Well, err...,” Dawn look uncertain after listening to her friends. She conceded defeat. “Oh, all right. I’ll lend it to you. Just for tonight.”
Elise’s face immediately lightened up, as if all her birthdays arrived together. “Oh, thank you, thank you!” she gushed, before standing up noisily. “I need to go now! See you all again!” With that, she strode out of the coffee shop, brushing past the mamak boy who arrived with her breakfast, leaving him and the other three women looking perplexed.
All around the town that day, there appeared a fat lady, wearing a red dress with a beautiful diamond ring on her little finger. The grocer at the corner of the road saw it, so did the fishmonger at the market, the beggars at the five-foot-way of shops and all the grandmothers living across the road. Everywhere there was a voice saying gaily “Look at my exquisite ring; my new boyfriend bought it for me!” It was unknown whether the fact that she had an expensive ring or that she had a boyfriend that surprised people.
The party that night was a huge success for Elise. Despite being a little exhausted after spending the whole day parading her ring around town, she still mesmerized everyone with her ring on her stubby little finger. “It cost him RM 40,000, and yet he still bought it for me,” she said to the woman sitting next to her. “Oh, it is only a twelve carat diamond, he said he will buy a bigger one next year,” she replied casually to a man who enquired about it.
“Miss Elise, there is a phone call for you,” a waiter broke her chatter with another unwed former classmate. “Oh, he must be making sure that I am having a good time,” she said airily to her friend, despite being puzzled by the call. Quickly, she followed the waiter out.
“Hello? Who is this?” she asked uncertainly, speaking into the receiver. “Elise! I want my ring back now! My husband is coming home in half an hour!” screeched Dawn, her voice laced with panic. “Calm down, Dawn,” she replied hastily. “Where are you?” “I’m at the coffee shop where we met this morning. Come now!” Dawn was hysterical. Elise’s brain was spinning quickly. There is still an hour to go at the party, but…. “All right, I’ll meet you there,” she replied.
Elise went back to her party and lingered for a while, letting everyone have another view of the sparkling diamond. With an apologetic smile she bade farewell to them thirty minutes later. “I’m sorry, I need to go now. My boyfriend is waiting for me in a coffee shop. He said he is giving me a surprise,” she said with a smile. With that, she walked elegantly out and down the street, disappearing round the corner, her left hand high up in the air so she could admire the ring glittering under the lampposts.
The next day, a prominent story appeared in all the local papers. Although different in their sensational headline, the gist is roughly the same. A spinster in her late forties, clad in a red dress, was found strangled to dead in a dark alley behind a certain coffee shop, with the little finger of her left right hand missing….