By Noelle Muddiman
“Um, sorry. That one’s not for sale.”
I set the bracelet I was holding down on the glass countertop and turned to face the timid saleswoman addressing me. I smiled.
“Oh I know,” I said, keeping my voice pleasant. “Still, it’s such a beautiful piece. So rare. One might even go as far as to say that it’s the only one of its kind.”
The saleswoman smiled nervously, obviously confused and too intimidated by my unwarranted passive aggression to say anything. I sighed inwardly. Being rude to a random employee would get me nowhere. I decided to change tactics.
“So this bracelet is just for display then? Or…” I trailed off, waiting for the saleswoman to fill in the missing information
“Oh! Um, well it’s a new piece. The uh, the owner of this store designed it specially for Lady Mativa for her fashion show. There’s a whole collection of pieces just like this one!” The saleswoman lifted the bracelet with a trembling hand. “I mean, it’s beautiful. Just um, look at the…craftsmanship — and the gems!”
Her voice spiked unnaturally high on the last word. I leaned in to take a closer look at the bracelet, but I didn’t even need my eyes open to know what it looked like. When something spends 13 years on your wrist, you get familiar with it. I could picture every pale pink diamond, each nestled in a bed of pearls and smaller white diamonds of various shapes.
I knew the way the bracelet felt: weighty and comfortable, the white gold worn smooth from generations of love. I knew that the clasp had a tiny scratch on it from when it had fallen off my grandmother’s wrist while she was participating in a late night horse race at a party. That bracelet had been a part of my family for years, and now it was sitting in a high-class jewelry shop, being passed off as some overrated jeweler’s design. I took a deep breath. I had to go about this carefully.
“So, the owner of this store, does he make custom pieces?” I asked, straightening up.
“Oh yes! Are you looking for um, anything in particular? I can give you his email if you want or I could see if he has an appointment available in the near future. He’s very busy as you know, what with this um, show coming up. He has to design another complete collection! And so soon after he just finished the Lady Mativa one. He’s so creative. I don’t know how he does it!” the saleswoman babbled.
He steals family heirlooms and bases all his pieces off them, that’s how he does it, I thought. But I held my tongue.
“Yes, I’d like to see him in person, as soon as can possibly be arranged. Tell him that Audrey Hess would like to hire his services in creating a very important bracelet.”
“Oh, yes. Um, just uh, give me one second.”
The saleswoman turned shakily and then darted across the store and up a grand flight of stairs with a silver runner. I watched her leave, then turned to the bracelet. I picked it up and ran my thumb over one of the large pale pink diamonds. I could just take it now and be done with this whole thing. But the saleswoman knew that I was interested in it and I would be the first suspect if it went missing. Then I would be no better than the owner of the shop, Mr. Jack Cariahm himself.
I lifted the bracelet into a bright shaft of light, watching as the diamonds caught and refracted the sun’s glow, painting the walls of the small shop in beautiful rainbow hues. I closed my eyes for a brief moment, soaking in this time spent with my most prized possession.
I must have looked ridiculous, standing in the middle of a jewelry shop with my eyes closed, clutching a priceless bracelet as though it was the only thing tying me to reality. In truth, it probably was. Ever since my bracelet was stolen, my whole life has been dedicated to getting it back. I was so close now, I could almost taste victory. All I had to do now was get an audience with Cariahm. I opened my eyes and set the bracelet down, staring blankly out at the bustling street as I went over my plan in my head for the millionth time. I had spent the past three months gathering evidence against Cariahm, and now I was finally going to confront him. I heard quick-moving footsteps behind me and turned to see the saleswoman weaving between display counters.
“Ma’am!” she called out. “Mr. Cariahm has time to see you right now!”
“Thank you,” I purred, a satisfied smile spreading over my face.
Read the conclusion of Heirloom in next week’s issue or, visit the Clearwater Times website to read the full story. Noelle Muddiman just finished Grade 10 at Clearwater Secondary School. The Student Journal is a section of The Times that showcases the work of the local high schoolers.