Mama Shaw's Pearls
Mama Shaw loved her pearls. They laid encased within a jeweled glass box with every other diamond encrusted, gold-plated, silver hooped, brass made trinket. You could see through the box. When the light hits it at the right angle, it lit up like the sun lights up the day. Often times i would stand at the door when she got ready in the evening and watch her carefully take out one delicate item at a time and set it out on her vanity which was covered in oxblood suede. She said it was better for the jewelry. I believe her.
One time about 3 and a half years ago, she was getting ready for a night out with her friends. Her dress was ivory, her hair done up in a chignon. The glass pearls were going to be perfect. Now they weren't your ordinary glass pearls. They were actual glass beads crafted to look like pale pearls. They were my favorite. Whenever Mama Shaw wore them they made her face glow and her cheeks always appeared much rosier than usual. I guess they were her favorite too. Around 8 that night, the door bell rings and Rosie Conner was at the door picking up Mama Shaw.
"Just a minute!" She said.
"Oh, take your time dah-ling, we're not in a rush." Answered Rosie up the stairs.
"Would you like a water, Miss Rosie?" I had asked politely.
"Ah no, dah-ling. But I would like some lemonade if ya gots sum."
"Yes, yes we do." I started towards the kitchen when out of the cold air came a wailing as I'd never heard before. Rosie ran up the stairs, fast as her little wobbly legs could take her. I followed hastily.
Of course we had not heard the shatter, for they were too tiny to have made any such noise. But seeing all the pieces scattered on the floor made for a noise unlike any other come out of Mama Shaw's mouth. She was on the floor both legs to either side of her, her hand to her heart, as if grasping for a reasoning.
"Dah-ling, dah-ling!" Rosie approached but was stopped.
"No, no. You'll cut your feet!" Mama Shaw's face was in agony. "My pearls..."
"Oh, Carol..." Rosie could not comfort Mama Shaw because she couldn't make it around to her. The pearls had shattered and created a barrier to get to her and the bed and vanity were on either side.
"I'll grab the broom and pan." I chipped in.
"No! No.." Mama Shaw stopped me. "Maybe it can be fixed."
"Dah-ling are you crazy? It's shattered to millions of pieces. You can't possibly think it can be repaired?"
Mama Shaw let that comment sink in. She started sniffling, then wiping her eyes, then full on weeping. The rest of the night was spent trying to cheer her up. Rosie made it to the other side by crawling up on the bed. She held Mama Shaw in her frail arms and rubbed her hair until she came down from crying to a deep groaning.
Rosie left around 11.
"She'll be alright. I don't blame the dear, they always were beautiful when she wore them."
"Yes, ma'am." I looked up at her face, aged with grace and poise, sprinkled with some despair and loss, but altogether, beautiful. I now understood why Mama Shaw was always envying her, she could stop a baby from crying with just a smile. But I guess tonight, Mama Shaw was a different story.
"You tell her I'll be back tomorrow. Goodnight now, Mariam." And she was gone. The house was quiet now. Mama Shaw seemed to have also quieted down. I walked back up to her room. I stood on the side of the door, not knowing what to do.
"Mariam, be a dear, and get me a glass of water please." She sniffled. I came back with it, crawled up the bed and gave it to her, as one would hand a baby its bottle. She drank it, reached up to set it on the vanity and slumped back down. She didn't speak anymore after that. I sat on the bed and twiddled my thumb. I crawled up the bed to take a look at the book Mama Shaw always read before she went to bed. There were no pictures but I could make out the words and skipped past the ones that were too big to pronounce. Before I drifted off, the story had summed up to something about dwarves and goblins and a ring. I wasn't sure but sleep that night was about lands far away and castles with fair maidens and knights. Far away where apples were blood red, the fields were endless and glass pearls never shattered.
I woke up to the sound of a lawn mower. The sun sliced through the blinds. I went on hands and knees to the edge of the bed. Mama Shaw was sleeping, next to the shattered pool of glass. She looked peaceful, but her mind must've been disturbed for when she woke, she took one look at the pile and started weeping again.
"Mama Shaw, what's the matter?" I asked. She didn't answer for she was too busy sniffling and crying and wimpering under her breath.
I climbed off the bed and went downstairs for some milk and cereal. This morning, there was no buttered toast, ham & eggs or thick juicy sausages. I didn't like milk very much but with cereal, I could eat three bowls. Mama Shaw would never allow me to do that though.