James and Laura were soulmates. They knew it and so did everyone who saw the two together. They were inseparable. They were perfect for each other. They shared everything, from birthdays to favorite movies, graduation dates and school mascots.
No one was surprised when James popped the question. There was even less surprise when Laura said yes. The wedding was as near perfect as it could be. The couple had wall art made of their vocal patterns from the moment they shared their I do’s. Their family home was warm, comfortable, and welcoming.
On their tenth anniversary, Laura surprised James with a new wedding ring, specially made just for James. They both laughed when James presented the same special ring to Laura.
The rings, each hidden from the other until the big day, held a secret: behind the engraving of a heartbeat on the inside was a microchip. The chip was an experimental design, letting the wearer of the ring feel the heartbeat of their love.
Laura and James’ hearts beat in time with each other. They were matched perfectly.
Until the day James’ heartbeat ring stopped pulsing on his finger. He was at work, in a business meeting with a huge committee of people. His words faltered, his fingers clenching in panic. In turmoil, James finished his meeting, hoping his ring was simply malfunctioning. He took the ring off, twirled it on his desk a few times and tapped it on his open palm. He put the ring on again. Still no pulsing.
He was reaching for the phone to call the company for advice when the phone on his office desk rang. Terrified, he reached for the receiver.
The voice on the other side was calm. The officer was apologetic and sympathetic, but James couldn’t hear beyond “gone.”
The funeral was perfect, of course. As perfect as a funeral could be. James was grief-stricken at losing his soulmate. His family stayed by his side for weeks. His love for Laura was enormous and his grief was overwhelming.
But eventually, James had to continue with his life. He wasn’t the same. He didn’t laugh easily anymore. His weight dropped and lines etched themselves into his handsome face. He switched jobs, searching for something to help fill the emptiness inside.
The whole while, he wore the ring that had fallen still. He talked to Laura everyday, thumbing the small circle on this finger as he did. It gave him small comfort, but it helped.
One night, over two years after he buried the love of his life, he was awoken by a strange feeling. At first, he thought it was a ghost feeling, his imagination conjuring his wife’s heartbeat in answer to an unremembered nightmare. But as he awoke, he realized it was growing stronger, the pulsing coming from his ring. In bewilderment, he stared at his finger and the burnished gold upon it. Second by second, the heartbeat grew stronger and steadier, until it matched his heartbeat.
Angry and frightened, James tore the ring from his hand and threw it across the room. Still the beat continued, louder and louder. James covered his ears, but he could still hear it. It beat harder, until James could feel it shaking his entire body.
The terrified man cowered in his bed, covering his head. The tears poured down his face. Whispered begging escaped from between his clenched teeth. And still the heartbeat continued.
James’ sister found him with a frozen visage of terror. He was buried next to his wife, his specially designed and made ring firmly on his finger. No one thought to check the ring when they investigated. Long after the funeral, the heartbeat rings continued, telegraphing the eternal love of James and Laura.