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by M Hodder
One day Grandma gave me her jewels. I couldn’t understand why, as she never seemed to like me particularly. It happened one Saturday.
Dad always took Grandma out on Saturday nights. He’d start to get ready about six then walk to Grandma’s and take her to the pub in the big wheelchair he’d bought for her when she became so crippled she could only walk slowly with a stick. Mum would meet them later and keep Grandma company while Dad waited on the bar. About nine, Dad would knock off to take Grandma home, then back in time for the rush before the flicking of lights and “Time now, lads” at right on ten. A quick clearing of the tables, Mum busy washing glasses, tables wiped down, lights out and a lingering nightcap with the landlord, his missis and the other barman. They’d smoke and reminisce, the talk would become slower and eventually one of them would make a move and they’d all go home.Mum and dad would hurry home as fast as the beery glow would allow along the deserted roads to our council house where I waited for their return, snug and dozing in the immense comfort of their big bed.
One special, special night there was an old paint-worn biscuit tin. “Grandma sent you these. You can look at them in the morning.”
I was transferred to my own bed and next morning the treasures kept me quiet for many hours whilst my parents had a much-needed sleep in. There were necklaces and brooches beyond a child’s imagination. A delicate green necklet, the stones linked with gold chainwork; an unfriendly black necklace of sharp shiny stones; an endless string of pearls destined to become scattered throughout the house and rediscovered every time someone searched down the armchairs for lost coins; old-fashioned brooches with dark-coloured gems in elaborate settings.
I had no idea how much these jewels were worth and Mum never gave me any clue. She merely watched as daily the jewels disintegrated, with a muttered “What would your Grandma say?” or “Don’t let your Dad know”. Grandma never asked about the jewels and never mentioned them again after I had dutifully thanked her. And Dad seemed to accept that the pretty beads and bracelets were not meant for me. I knew I was not pretty. No amount of thinking could find the answer to why I had been given the treasures.