The ring weighed heavy in her palm, heavier than it should have been, all sharp edged and uncomfortable. Picking it up, she held over the table lamp. The face looked back at her, ghost white and unsmiling. A solemn face. Big eyed. Cartoonish, almost.
Other people inherited houses. Cars. Money. Solid, tangible, useful things, things you could build a future on. Not an ugly ring with a round faced spectre leering from it.
Odd word to pick. It was just the way its painted eyes seemed to follow her around the room. Stupid. Just her imagination playing tricks.
It was the house probably; she’d never liked it here. It smelt the same now as it did when she was a kid. Musty, disused, like no one lived there. And it was cold, so cold. She’d always had to wear an extra sweater, the real wool kind, thick and scratchy.
Mum insisted though. Said family was family and someone had to keep an eye on Aunt Mal. Always seemed more like Mal kept an eye on them, thin pale eyes to match her thin pale smile. Witchy.
She’d always thought Mum was in it for the inheritance. Mustn’t have known there wasn’t one, just the stupid ring. Turns out the house never belonged to Aunt Mal. Belonged to a friend of hers, but no one had seen her, not for years.
That was weird too. The lease had been tucked in a bookshelf. Aunt Mal got the house and her friend, she got a bed of gold. A bed of gold? Who did that?
She looked again at the ring. Carefully rubbing the dirty metal, she smiled. Yellow. It was gold. That at least ought to be worth something.
She didn’t see the tear roll down the painted face.
This story was inspired by an image on Anna Meade's Faerytaleish Pinterest Board and written as part of the #Faerypin writing contest (300 words, fairy tale based on one of Anna's pins). Both my stories (see Lady of the Lamp) feature an enchanted artefact. This one plays on the way things can go wrong when you make a deal with a fairy or a witch. The devil is always in the detail.