Flash Fiction – The Jewelry Box

The trick is not to disturb the dust. Getting it open isn’t as difficult as closing it without disturbing the dust on the lid. Maybe catching it by the inside lip and then letting gravity do the rest would work?

With a plan in place, Marian used her old library card to gently lift the lid to her mother’s jewelry box. She half expected the contents inside to be as dust-laden as the outside. But instead there were a few velvety boxes neatly stacked and several plastic bags neatly lining the base of the cedar box.

On the off chance that her mother did check, the plastic bags were too obvious. As long as the boxes looked untouched, maybe no further inspection would be necessary. She clenched and unclenched her fist a few times before reaching out and taking the first box, glancing up in the mirror to double and triple check that no one was watching her from the doorway. The hinge on the box was stiff from disuse and resisted Marian’s attempt at opening it gently, making a loud groan as the lid was forced and the tired box resettled.

After a moment’s hesitation with her ears straining for the sounds of a shift in someone’s attention, she looked down at the gold chain held in place by a piece of cardboard. A small cluster of diamonds surrounding a ruby hung delicately from the fine chain. In her haste to get the necklace out of its box, Marian nearly ripped the piece of cardboard. She carefully replaced it and put the velvet box down next to the larger jewelry box and looked more intently at the necklace small fortune in her hand.

The chain was so small, she could hardly make out the individual links holding it together and the clasp appeared impossible to open. Marian struggled to open it with her nail-bitten fingers and almost dropped it twice before finally securing it around her neck. She was surprised by the weight of the pendant and the choker-like fit. The chain had seemed longer in the box. As she put her fingers to the heirloom, guilt began to creep into her hand and caused it to shake. Maybe she would just remove the chain and leave the pendant in the box.

“I was going to wait to give that one to you for your birthday next year.” Marian’s eyes darted to the doorway reflected in the mirror. Her mother stood leaning against the doorjamb with a smile on her face. “You can have it now if you want.”

Marian’s face flushed and she reached behind her neck, fumbling with the clasp. “No, no. I… didn’t mean…” She carefully put the necklace back in the box, setting it into the cardboard display piece. After closing the lid, Marian used her sleeve to dust off the lid and a little space around it on the chest of drawers.

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4 thoughts on “Flash Fiction – The Jewelry Box

  1. I love how this depicts some of the origins of desire and generosity — forbidden heightens the desire, but if it’s met with generosity the object of desire isn’t precious anymore. Cool stuff.

  2. ganymeder says:

    I didn’t get that she was trying to support a drug habit or anything, just that it was something that she wanted. I love that the mother was so understanding and loving at the end.

  3. Peggy says:

    Why did Marian want the jewelry? I got a hint that she would steal then sell, maybe support a drug habit? Those rich details about not disturbing the dust, triple checking for anyone noticing, nail-bitten fingers set me up for thinking she was up to no good.
    I did like that Mom showed her unconditional love at the end and thwarted Marian, but I want to know the whys.

    • Lauryn E. Nosek says:

      I don’t think I had made up my mind about that myself and that’s why I left it vague. I like it when readers can project their own meaning onto things (it’s left over from being a lit major). I think I lean more towards the nefarious side myself but there’s also the possibility of a younger child going through her mother’s jewelry for something to wear to school and show off but nothing that would be too noticeable. I like leaving it so it can go either way. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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