Two Pairs of Diamond Earrings
She liked watching the tourists who walked with complete comfort and casualty in their fur jackets and camel coats, then stopped themselves every two minutes to admire the sight of ancient, complexly structured, grey, undecorated cathedrals complemented by the blue-grey clusters of clouds, each cluster having the ability to be a brush stroke of its own on an impressionist painting that serves as a backdrop. Some tourists would take pictures, some would stand still in constant admiration, and some others would walk by the site with their pupils statically positioned centrally inside their eyeballs.
She liked sitting on top of the opposing hill, where the gentle breezes smelled of blue hydrangea that had been bathed in white sunshine. On this particular day, however, this smell was enhanced by the stack of letters, envelopes, and books that were white when she had received them but had become more yellow over the years.
She looked down at the most upper envelope. Her view of it got blurrier by the second as tears started surfacing her eyes. She used her sleeve to clear her vision and opened up the envelope, containing an Art Deco pearl necklace and two pair of diamond earrings. It didn’t matter that her vision was getting blurrier this time because she was now envisioning a memory.
She saw her 8-year-old self struggling to climb up a wooden stool matching the peach-colored dresser next to it. Once she reached the top of the stool, she stood on her knees and saw her mother’s usual reflection in the mirror.
“Mommy,” she had called out, as her mother was adjusting and readjusting her necklace and earrings.
The mother immediately turned her head to face her, smile, gently place her own hands under her daughter’s arms, and answered, “Yes, sweetie.”
“Where are you going?” asked the daughter as she looked down at the dresser, and playfully picked up another pair of earrings to hold near her ears.
“Oh,” her mother answered as she slowly pulled her hands back to her jewelry and looked back into the mirror. “I’m going out.” She paused, then realizing that she hasn’t actually answered her daughter’s question, she added “with friends.” She turned to her daughter again and gave her a rushed kiss on the cheek. “Goodnight, sweetie. I love you.”
The daughter gave a genuine smile and said, “I love you, too,” as her mother made her way towards the bedroom door then the house’s front door, where she kissed the father goodbye, and walked out without saying a word.
The father closed the door behind her, then turned to his daughter with a smile purely made of love. “Who wants to watch a movie with me?” asked the father playfully.
“I do!” she cried with excitement as she ran up to her bedroom, grabbed her favorite plain light blue blanket that she had once attempted decorating in red and green crayons and markers, then ran back downstairs towards the lavender triple couch, where her father was already sitting, and jumped up to the top, comforting herself with her blanket, as she tried catching a breath while giggling.
Her father looked down at her with an uncontrollable smile, then looked back at the TV opposing them.
Her eyes were fixated on the screen, but slowly becoming more exhausted and her body becoming less able to stay awake. About half an hour into the movie, her father noticed that she was fully asleep, making him mute the TV and gently carry her up to her room, where he put her to bed, gave her a soft kiss on the cheek, and turned off the lights as he went out of the room.
She had slept early that day, and woken up to her father talking on the phone, pronouncing all these words that had made no sense to her back then as she listened to them from her bedroom, but did now as she sat on top of the hill as an 18-year-old.
“When was this? But if the investigators found the corpse in the lake with scars covering her chest, does that mean she drowned or was she stabbed to death? How come it’s both? So, even if the cause of her death was the drowning, that can still mean it was a homicide. But.. But who would’ve done something like this? Wh- Why isn’t anybody looking for the murderer? Well, I’m sorry, sir, but you’re not looking hard enough. Yes, I know that it was last night, but I also know that my wife got killed because this town isn’t being made safe enough for all of us to live in, thanks to you all. I’m sorry, but I respectfully disagree. This is not the result of me grieving. I am not overreacting. I just- I’m sorry, I’m going to have to go.”
After she couldn’t hear his voice anymore, she started looking around the room and noticed that her mother was not her first sight that morning as she was every other previous day. She took a tour around the house looking for her mother, first looking right outside her room, where she found nothing but cookie crumbs on the floor from the cookie she’d snuck into her room the previous night. She then walked down the spiral staircase with her arm raised to place her hand on the railing. Her father’s voice grew louder and louder as she neared the bottom of the staircase, where she only spotted her father speaking on the phone in the living room. She didn’t notice that his face was redder than usual, as she turned to her right, and entered the blue-tiled kitchen, and saw nothing but the marble countertop circling the central stove. Her last hope was her parent’s bedroom, so she went back upstairs, opened the door, and noticed that this was one of the few times when she saw the mirror over the dresser without her mother’s reflection in it.
She sprinted down to her father, her white-pearl nightdress flowing behind her in pure excitement, as her only thought was that her mother was out buying Christmas presents a week early. As soon as she stood next to her father, she grabbed the dark grey linen of his pants, repeatedly pulling down on it until he looked down at her with a red face and exhausted eyes, waiting for her to talk.
“Where’s Mommy?” she asked, with the sight of her father slowly turning her smile into utter confusion and concern.
“Sit down, sweetie,” said the father gently, as he forcefully let out an uncomfortable smile. “I want to tell you something.”
She walked to the lavender couch at the edge of the circular carpet, and let out a grunt as she struggled to jump up and sit down. Her father moved the opposing couch closer to her, held his hands out for her to place her own on top.
“Um,” his voice shook, as he looked down at the floor. He looked back up, let out a deep sigh and started, “I know that you didn’t know about this, but…” He paused, sniffed, looked up, then looked back at his daughter’s reddening face. “Mommy’s not going to be here for a while.” She tilted her head to her right, and confusedly asked why that is. “She’s just … feeling tired. She’s on a vacation. A really long vacation.”
“Did I do something bad?” she asked.
“No no no no no,” immediately answered the father. “She’s just taking a break. For herself.”
All she could hear after that was the sound of herself sobbing, with her sobs increasing in intensity between each deep breath she had taken. More and more tears surfaced her eyes each second, until the sight of her father speaking and attempting to calm her down only became a blur.
She used her sleeve again to wipe away the tears that had surfaced her eyes, noticing that the envelope had newly wet patches all over. She focused on inhaling. She focused on exhaling. She stood up, placed the stack back into her backpack not only so that she can avoid their sight but more importantly, so that her father avoids their sight. She wanted to start walking back to her house when her father called her.
“Hello. Good, you? Sorry, I’m going back right now. No no no, that’s fine. I can walk back home. You don’t need to give me a ride. Oh, um.. she says hi. Sorry, yeah, she’s kind of busy right now, with all the others guests. I’ll be sure to let her know. The wind? Oh, I’m just outside her house, not inside. Dad, we’ve been over this. I promised you multiple times before that I’m never going back to that hill. It makes me sad and scared, too. I obviously wouldn’t choose to stay in what was practically Mom’s crime scene. I know. Okay, dad, I’m leaving now. Okay, good. I love you, too. Bye.”
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© 2017 Luai Alhasan