Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Necklace

Editors Note: I don't write fiction short stories often. Most of my writing is based on real experiences. But the prompt from Plinky really got me thinking, and this story is what happened when I started typing. Be kind in your criticism :)

Prompt:On a weekend road trip, far away from home, you stumble upon a garage sale in a neighborhood you’re passing through. Astonished, you find an object among the belongings for sale that you recognize. Tell us about it.

I couldn't help but stare at the clock. It was a Friday morning, and I was taking a half day at work. I was headed to Nashville with my best friend and roommate, Lily, for the weekend. We had been planning and counting down for months. I had my stuff packed up by 11:45, anxious to leave the office. When noon finally came, I yelled goodbye to my coworkers, ran out the door and jumped into my brand new Ford Focus.

I swung by the house, where Lily was waiting in the driveway with all her bags and a cooler full of snacks. We squealed as she threw her stuff in the trunk and settled into the front seat. With a quick shout of "here we go!" and a honk of the horn, we were off on yet another adventure.

We hopped on the freeway only to get stuck in a major traffic jam. Frustrated, we took a big sigh and sat back in our seats. We started firing questions back and forth to one another, our own little game we liked to play. Honestly, there's no one else I'd rather be stuck in traffic with than Lily. We always made the best out of bad situations and we shared a similar philosophy on life: it's too short. Have fun wherever you can.

Suddenly Lily turned the music down and turned to me."Hey, Julie, you know who would have loved this?". I took a deep breath and just replied with "Yeah. She would have". Lily was referring to my little sister, Kate. Growing up, Kate and I were attached at the hip. We were the best of friends, even though she was five years younger than me. I didn't make a single decision without consulting Kate first.

My world was shaken a few months earlier when Kate was killed in a car accident. Poor, sweet Kate. she had just graduated from nursing school, moved to Kentucky, and was finally going to be starting her career as a pediatric nurse, her dream job. She was hit by a drunk driver at 9 AM on a Thursday on her way to orientation at the hospital. I was still grieving. Kate was supposed to be with us on this road trip. We had planned on picking her up in Kentucky on our way down to Nashville. Lily pat my hand gently and sweetly said "Well, she's here in spirit". Lily was always trying to comfort me.

We were quiet for a while as we continued our drive and were headed further south.  We stopped for a quick meal somewhere in Kentucky, not too far from where Kate had lived. As we were trying to get back on the freeway, Lily grabbed my arm and said "hey look! a garage sale! jackpot!". Lily was all about garage sales- she loved finding hidden treasures. I rolled my eyes and joked "do you want to stop, Miss Garage Sale addict?".  Lily didn't have to answer. I could tell by the look on her face that she did. "Fine. But I'm only giving you a few minutes. We should get back on the road. I want to get to Nashville before tomorrow, please". Lily clapped her hands excitedly.

We got out of the car and Lily practically ran to the owners, talking to them a mile a minute about their goodies out front. I politely smiled and stood back, shuffling through their CD collection. I looked to the left and to browse the jewelry table. And then I saw it. The necklace. I snatched it, and examined it. "Oh. My. Gosh".

With my voice shaking, I called out for Lily. She waltzed over with a pile of stuff in her hands, dropping all of it when she saw what I was holding. "Is that........?". It was.

It was no plain necklace. It was my necklace. A key engraved with the word HOPE on one side and my initials on the back, hanging on a black leather chord. Lily wrapped me into her arms as I began to cry.

My mind began to flash memories like rapid fire. My 25th Birthday party, when Kate stood anxiously watching me open her present. It was the necklace, with a note that read "I know sometimes you get scared, this necklace is to make you brave and give you hope".

Then there was that tragic day.  The day Kate was killed. Hours after the worst phone call of my life, I went for a long run wearing the necklace. When I had returned home I realized it was missing. I retraced my steps and searched everywhere. Eventually, I gave up hope, assuming it was gone forever, just like my baby sister. I was always angry at myself for losing it.

Now, I was holding the necklace in my hand again. So many questions raced through my mind and yet I couldn't open my mouth to speak. Lily interrupted, starting to ask the owners "Hey, where did you..." I cut her off. I didn't need to know. The necklace was in my hands now, and I was going to buy it. It was priced at $3, but to me, it was worth a fortune. I walked up to the cash register and handed over three single dollar bills.

I tried to quickly walk away, but the owner, a beautiful woman who wasn't much older than us, stopped me by saying "Ah, this is a very special necklace. It belonged to my niece, Alicia. She wore this thing every day."

"Can I ask you where she got it? It looks handmade, not something you see every day" I asked, playing dumb.

"We aren't really sure. We just walked into her hospital room and there she was, wearing it. She said something about a visitor coming and giving it to her, that the necklace would help make her brave and to have hope".

"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that she's sick" I replied, suddenly embarrassed, like I was intruding on this family.

Looking down, the woman said to me "She actually passed away two weeks ago. Leukemia. I know it seems a little weird to be selling stuff, but her parents are struggling with all the medical bills, and this was our last resort."

Well, that just about broke my heart. I looked at Lily, who had a tear rolling down her cheek.

"Kate! That was it!" The woman shouted.

"WHAT?" Lily and I both asked in unison, our heads snapping up.

The woman smiled and nodded as she explained, "Kate. That was the name of the visitor. I don't know how I could forget that. Alicia wouldn't stop talking about her. Said she was an angel. She must have been a hospital volunteer or something".

All I could manage to say was... "yeah...she must have been......."

Lily spoke up, saying "Thank you so much for this necklace. It really means a lot to Julie here. We've got to get going, we're on our way to Nashville".

"Thanks for stopping by. I hope the necklace comes in handy for you, too. You girls drive safely".

Lily had to softly push me down the driveway, I don't think my legs were working properly. I was in shock. We got back into the car and I was still staring at the necklace.

"Well that was weird". Lily said, breaking the silence.

"Let's just drive". I responded. I sat in the passenger seat with my eyes closed, smiling. Kate managed to find me and to touch my heart. She was always so good at that.


Shari said... Add Reply

You should definitely write short stories more often, because this was so wonderfully done. You have such a delicate quality to your words that both moves and inspires. Thank you for sharing that with us!

Dee @ A Deecoded Life said... Add Reply

Aww what a beautiful touching story! Nicely done!

Misha Gerrick said... Add Reply

Very touching story. Gave me chills. :-)