Paul H. Williams, Contributor
Gloria turned and tossed in the bed, restless she was. Her discontent was going on for days, and her husband Ernel seemed not to notice that she was searching and searching for something, inside and outside of their house. Gloria herself didn't broach the subject of her unease.
In the evenings, after returning from work, Ernel sat for dinner, alone. He would watch Gloria sit by herself, with a look of frustration on her face. She didn't venture out of the yard much, and when she did, she would rush home, walking with her hands in her skirt pockets. And no lengthy conversation took place with neighbours and acquaintances.
"After all these years of waiting, how could this happen?" she kept asking herself. "And he don't even tek notice."
After seven days of searching, Gloria got up early one Sunday morning to make a certain trip to a 'mother woman' in a neighbouring village. She told Ernel she was going to see her mother.
Years before, Gloria said to Ernel as they lay in bed one night, "We can't live like this, Ernel. It no right in the sight of man, and Mama no agree wid de sweetheart life." She had said it to him many times before, and the answer was always the same. "When the right time come."
Whether it was wrong or right, the time came, and Ernel and Gloria got married eventually in an elaborate way that the village could not imagine. Gloria had always dreamt of a big wedding, and if it meant that her father had to sell two of his cows to finance it, it was going to happen.
But it was her wedding ring that was the topic of discussion for months. Solid gold, half-inch wide band it was. The 'almighty ring' the villagers called it. One woman remarked Gloria didn't deserve it because she was unfaithful to Ernel once when he went on farm work in Canada. And as she walked down the street, she would outstretch her left arm and spread her fingers.
Gloria loved the almighty ring almighty ring so much that she took it off whenever she was having a bath or washing. She didn't want to blemish it, she reasoned. Ernel would warn her about the practice, afraid that it could get lost or stolen.
Now, at the mother woman, Mother Scott was asking Gloria about her home situation. She continued by declaring, "Is either him sweetheart or the bullfrog,"
"Sweetheart!? Bullfrog!? I don't understand!"
"Yes, is one a dem tek it way,"
"But Ernel no have no adda woman apart from mi."
"The woman him always fool round still love him."
"But that no long time supp'n!"
"You stay dere. Pot still deh pon fire, and duppy still walk."
"Well mek it stay dere a boil, and mek dem walk, I have the ring,"
"The one dat yuh can't find."
"So, how did bullfrog come into this?
"Yuh no know dat bullfrog love gold?
"Mi did bout read it inna one story, but no fairy tale dat?"
"Tell dat to the bullfrog dat live unda de stone beside de pipe inna yuh yard."
"How yuh know dat!?'
"Never mind. If yuh really want back de ring dis is what you do."
On the way home, Gloria heart beat fast. She knew about the frog that lived under the rock. Some nights she would make at it, and it would hop back under the broad rock, the same one on which she claimed she put the ring, one evening before she washed her clothes.
When she reached home, Ernel asked, "How is yuh madda?"
"Not so bad. A tired yuh see. Yuh cook?"
After dinner, Ernel and Glolria retreated to bed. Gloria wanted to know whether Ernel still had feelings for Madge, but Ernel refused to entertain her, telling her to stop the foolishness, before dozing off.
She, however, kept wide awake. There was something she had to do before midnight, and when she was sure Ernel was fast sleep, she crept out of the house, stark naked.
With a big torch, a broomstick, and her Bible, Gloria went to the rock under which the frog lived. She placed the torch and broomstick on to the ground, before reading a Psalm. Then she spun once, twice, and half-way through the third spin, she saw something move on the ground. In the glare of the torchlight, there was the frog, stooping in front of her. It had left the hole, it seemed, and was on its way back.
Gloria's heart was in her mouth by now.
She closed the Bible nervously, and slowly picked up the broomstick. With all her might, she beat the warty creature with the broomstick hoping that it would regurgitate the almighty ring. "Wap! wap! Wap!"
"Gloria! Gloria!" Ernel shouted, as he happened upon the desperate scene, "Leave the dyam bullfrog alone, yuh lef it pon de fridge top!"
The broomstick fell from Gloria's hand, and slowly she turned to face Ernel, from whose finger the almighty ring glowed in the torchlight.