Beneath the soft glow of the moon, the anniversary celebration unfolded on a serene beachside, creating a magical ambiance for the special occasion. The white tabletop was adorned with elegance, featuring two empty wine glasses artfully arranged, a round coffee-flavored cake inscribed with “Happy 50th Anniversary 25-Dec,” and a central candle marking the golden jubilee. The rhythmic dance of sea waves added a touch of natural orchestration to the romantic scene. Seated across from each other were a husband and wife, both in their mid-70s. The husband sports a floral beach shirt paired with textured half pants, showcasing his enduring athletic physique. Across time, he has maintained a fit and trim figure. On the other hand, the wife captivates with her stunning appearance — adorned with a shining star nose ring and a bright red bindi on her forehead. Despite a slight plumpness, the traditional black saree she wears gives her a timeless and youthful appeal. Her dark dyed straight hair cascades freely, completing the graceful and age-defying look.

Experiencing a moment of triumph, the husband discreetly signaled the nearby waiter. The waiter, responding to the signal, approached with a smile, carefully lighting the candles on the cake adorned with the digits 5 and 0. As the candles came to life, its warm glow embraced the wife’s face, accompanied by the distant strumming of a gentle acoustic guitar. Observing the waiter discreetly leaving their vicinity, the wife tuned into the music. With the addition of piano and strings, she playfully remarked, “Roberta Flack?” The husband proudly affirmed, nodding, and animatedly began enacting the first line of the song, gazing into her dark eyes, “The first time ever I saw your face.” A wide smile graced the wife’s face as she glanced around, realizing they were alone, save for the distant presence of the waiter and the music flowing from that direction. Playfully, she corrected him, “This is not Roberta’s song.” The husband, halting his act, responded with a smile, “Yes, I know. Do you recall whose song this is?” Despite her efforts, the wife couldn’t remember, giggling to convey her forgetfulness. Amused, the husband teased, “Oh, my forgetful wife!” and they both shared a laugh. Holding hands, they looked into each other’s eyes, the music setting the perfect mood of love and joy. The atmosphere became an exquisite blend of nostalgia and the ceaseless waves.

Expressing his joy, the husband shared, “Despite the Christmas holidays, I managed to find this quiet place, just for us.” The wife, intrigued, asked, “How did you pull it off?” Leaning forward with pride, he suggested, “Shall we see who blows the candle?” Although the wife appears unconvinced, she opts not to delve further into the matter and prepares to blow out the candle, leaning forward towards the cake. Halting the wife with a cynical smile, the husband remarks, “Oh, I thought you’d recall our vow?” Perplexed, the wife leans backward and questions, “Am I overlooking something?” The husband smiles, revealing teeth that have faded with the passing years. Sensing the wife’s lack of emotion, he quickly adds, “On our first anniversary, we both pledged that if we made it to our 50th, we would share a secret.” The wife sighs, “Oh, really?” The husband seeks validation, but the wife, clueless, “So, what do you expect now?” Smiling, he replies, “We ought to honor our vows.” Growing restless, the wife protests, “Are you serious? I have no secrets, and I can’t recall any vow.” Extending across the table, the husband takes the wife’s hand, locking eyes, and reassures, “I wouldn’t lie. It was your idea back then.” Holding his hand tightly, the wife smiles, “Okay, who goes first?” The husband withdraws his hand with a playful “Ladies first?” The wife chuckles, “So convenient,” and the husband reciprocates with a smile. The song concludes, leaving a serene silence in the air, harmonizing with the rhythmic cadence of waves persistently caressing the shore.

The wife glanced at her hand, observing the ring on her left index finger – a seemingly ordinary one with a small round projection on top. Gently rubbing her finger against it, she noticed the candlelight on the cake, ensuring its survival amidst simmering winds in the dining area. The husband’s smile slowly faded as a prolonged silence lingered. Finally breaking the silence, the wife looked at her husband, hinting at a hidden secret. Clearing her throat, she presented the ring, “Do you remember this ring?” The husband, looking at it, nodded in assertion. The wife shifted her gaze to the beach, reminiscing, “I used to visit this beach during my school vacations with family; it was real fun.” A faint smile appeared on her face, reciprocated by the husband. Continuing her story, she recalled, “One day, my mom and I were strolling on the beach when I was eight or nine. I saw my grandmother from a distance, seated on the shore, building a sandcastle.” The husband switched his glances between his wife and the ring. Seated with her grandmother, the wife admired her artistic skills. “She handed me this ring, told me to hide it.” The husband, curious, interjected, “Why would she tell you to hide it?” Gathering her thoughts, the wife explained, “I didn’t ask. Instead, I inquired where she got such a lovely ring. Pointing at the sandcastle with a wide grin, she said the castle gave her this ring, and it was for the princess.” The husband, not pleased, questioned when she started wearing the ring. The wife revealed, “At the age of 13 or 14, I discovered the ring has a cavity,” sliding open the lid. “A stream of rainbow color appears floating inside the cavity, and…” The husband, looking for a rainbow stream, found darkness and asked, “…and?”

Looking into his eyes, the wife’s eyes grew heavy. “…and one day, I tried to insert my finger to feel the stream, and to my shock, it restarted the same day.” The husband, surprised, exclaimed, “What?” Expecting a shock from him, the wife confirmed, “Yes, it restarts the current day.” Shaken, the husband asked how it was possible. The wife, interrupting, admitted, “I do not know how.” Pausing, she looked at the 50th-year candlelight, slowly melting the digits. “And I have used it in my college days; it resets to the same day, and I vividly recall the events leading up to my choice to restart when the identical day begins anew.” Shell-shocked and bewildered, the husband questioned as he peered into the ring’s cavity, “Have you used it while we were together? And where is the damn rainbow stream?” Swallowing nervously, the wife gazed at the ring and explained, “The rainbow stream vanished after a few years, and now it’s just a normal ring – a cherished possession from my grandmother.” Restless, the husband insisted, “I don’t understand; did the rainbow stream disappear before our marriage?” The wife, interrupting, implored, “Calm down; I will never ever have used it while we are together.” She extended her left hand towards her husband’s, attempting to console him. However, he remained unconvinced, observing her approaching hand. Holding her hand, he tried to insert his finger into the cavity, saying, “Ok, let me try this out now.” Swiftly, the wife withdrew her hand and closed the lid of the ring, pleading, “Please, you need to trust me on this.” The husband controlled his breathing, gazing at the sea, where the only sound now was the waves hitting the shore and retreating. Gazing at him helplessly with teary eyes, the wife wiped away her tears, expressing, “I am sorry to spoil this wonderful evening with such a trivial ring.” The husband, looking at her, conceded, “You are right; we should stop this and blow the candle.” Interrupting with mischievous intent, the wife insisted while wiping her eyes with her palm “Your turn.” Though reluctant, the husband smiled back, suggesting, “I do not want to create a mayhem out of this; let’s celebrate with cake and some wine.” Protesting, the wife reacted, “It’s unfair; we have made a vow, right?” Sighing, the husband glanced at the wife and the ring, unable to take his sight off it. Clearing his throat, he disclosed, “I have a secret, and it’s about you assuming I don’t know.” The wife’s smile faded as she fumbled in response, avoiding strong eye contact, “You mean my ignorance… What could it be?” Remaining silent, the husband continued to scrutinize her and the ring. Growing more conscious of his stare, the wife stumbled, looking at the ring, “Is it to do with the ring …. reports?… Let’s stop this and blow the candle.” Seizing on her mention of reports, the husband probed, “Reports? What reports?” The wife stood, suggesting, “Let’s stop this,” but the husband gestured for her to remain seated, insisting raising his voice, “We are discussing; how can you walk out?” Observing the waiter at a distance, he mellowed down, “I’m sorry, please be seated” and the wife slowly yet unwillingly complied. Trying again, the husband pressed, “What reports are you hiding from me?” Tearfully, the wife admitted, “It was a slip of the tongue; can we go back to the room, please?” Unyielding, the husband insisted, “What reports were you talking about?” Wiping her tears, the wife revealed, “The infertility assessment reports.” Shocked, the husband exclaimed, “This is unbelievable; I do not remember doing any tests.” Calmly, the wife added, “Those were my test reports,” further infuriating the husband, who protested, “We agreed to continue without any tests, any medications, so what changed?” Tearfully, the wife explained, “I was depressed and wanted to check whether the problem is with me.” The husband seemed to sense a skipped heartbeat. As the wife wiped her flowing tears, the impatient husband raised his voice, demanding, “And please tell me that the fault is with me.” A profound silence hangs in the air as the wife, avoiding any glance towards her husband, maintains a mysterious silence. The husband, growing increasingly impatient, bursts out, “For God’s sake, speak up”. Softly, the wife added, “The reports state… that I’m fertile.” The husband, unable to process the revelation, stood abruptly and walked briskly out of the open dining area, heading towards the sea. Seated and crying, the wife gazed at the burning candle on the cake, the golden jubilee digits partially melted. Turning back towards the sea, she walked toward the waves.

Furiously smoking, the husband fixed his gaze on the sea with heavy eyes. Standing close to his right side, the wife joined him. Both observed the dark sky and the approaching waves. The wife spoke softly, “I never wanted to lose you; your presence means the world to me. I hope you understand this.” The husband released a puff of cigarette smoke to his left side and grasped his wife’s left hand. His eyes fixated on the ring, he inquired, “Is this the same sea where you got this ring?” The wife, looking concerned, nodded, “Yes.” Feeling the ring with his fingers, the husband suggested, “So return it back to the sea.” The wife vehemently responded, pulling away from his touch, “No, this is my grandmother’s gift.” The husband erupts into laughter. His laughter, however, seemed staged, a forced performance meant to mask the underlying discomfort. He abruptly bends down, his hands reaching for his thighs in an exaggerated display. The forced mirth leaves an awkward silence in his wife. He glares at his wife, frustration etched across his face. “Look into my eyes and assure me that you haven’t used this ring to hide your secrets from me.” The disappointment and anger resonate in his words. Tears welling on the edge of her eyes, the wife gazes into his eyes, conveying her silent vulnerability. Standing upright with teary eyes, the husband with a heavy tone, “I trusted you more than my life and…” The husband’s lips tremble, struggling to articulate his thoughts, but he walks away from the wife.

Stunned, the wife stood frozen, her gaze fixed on the sea and the ring. As her husband walked away, her eyes shifted between him and the ring, tears streaming down her face. Her expression shifted from shock to anguish, and she contemplated removing the ring, perhaps to cast it into the sea. However, she found herself unable to do so. As she continued weeping, her eyes alternated between her fading husband and the dining area, where the waiter remained in the same position. In her imagination, she pictured the burning candle on the cake, melting the digits entirely until the flames eventually burned out. Reluctant to part with the ring, she gently slid it back onto her left-hand index finger. With a heavy heart, she gazed at the ring, slowly bringing her right-hand finger closer to the ring’s lid. The waves grew stronger, crashing against her feet. Then, a strong wave surrounded her, and amidst her tears, she whispered, “I had to do this to be with you.” As the mightiest wave crashed upon her feet, an unbelievable moment unfolded, her finger drawn relentlessly toward the ring, triggered a resounding click. This surreal sound echoed in perfect harmony with the forceful wave, sending tremors that were clearly felt throughout her body. The resulting dramatic melody, an orchestration of sea, ring, and fate, transcended the bounds of ordinary reality.

The husband and wife are peacefully asleep in their spacious resort room holding each other close, surrounded by the soothing sounds of ocean waves. The wife’s loud snores create a nighttime melody, masking her husband’s softer sounds. In the dimly lit room, the wife’s ring, a silent witness, reveals a shimmering rainbow stream escaping through its open cavity. Adjacent to their bed, a clock shows midnight on December 25th.