The pain was raw, exquisite.

“Okay, now, we just have one more to go… and there, we’re done. That wasn’t so bad was it?” He said, smiling at her reassuringly.

She gritted her teeth, blinking back tears.

It hurt. It hurt terribly. She cursed under her breath.

Her eyes had begun to water when he forced the titanium bar through the fresh entry point. It had taken all she had not to scream bloody murder when he pushed the bar through to the exit point. The raw flesh throbbed fiercely against the bar sending sharp waves of pain ricocheting through her ear.

She dug her nails in, tearing fresh marks in the leather seat. But it did little in the way of preventing her overly liberal use of obscenities.

She paid him handsomely, making sure to include a fat tip as an offset against her disgraceful behaviour.

Her hair caught on the bar, tugging it. She winced, letting loose another string of profanities under her breath.

She coloured from the shame, hurriedly leaving the shop.

There was a tug on her dress.

She spun around to see a little boy with ruddy cheeks shyly proffering up a note for fifty dollars.

That’s odd, she thought, I cleaned out my wallet with that piercing.

She began to decline, explaining to the little boy that he must be mistaken. But the little boy merely stared at her with his hands out stretched to give her the note.

She accepted it.

The connection was not made straight away. That came days later.

She heaved her weary body out of the pool. As per her usual routine, she ripped off the swimming cap and grabbed a dry towel.

She was in the midst of toweling dry her hair when she became aware of the warm, sticky fluid coating her ear. A moment later, the pain registered.

Her knees buckled and she fell to the ground.

When she came to, a friendly face was staring down at her. His face was creased with well-worn lines. His eyes twinkled with mirth. He beamed at her, not saying anything. She drifted out of consciousness.

He had left by the time she woke again. In his place on the armchair was a sealed envelope.

She inspected the envelope. It was made of heavy stock with a glossy, coated finish. Her name was stenciled in.

Gingerly, she broke the wax seal and lifted the flap. Out slid a single ring. It was a simple thing with a plain nondescript band.

She weighed the ring in the palm of her hand. Then, on an impulse, she slid the ring onto her finger.

The shrill ring from her phone startled her.

“Hello?” She uttered hesitantly.

A gruff voice boomed from the other end of the line. “It’s me.”

Source for Prompt.

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