Chloe Writes: "Pearls"
Chloe Writes is a #GS&NS blog series featuring the work of our very own Design Assistant, Chloe Glass. From her notebook to your screen, Chloe shares her writing, photography, and art with our creative readers.
Pearls from her grandmother. Her grandmothers pearls. The pearls her grandmother used to wear, and now she wore, wound around her neck, tight and pretty. The woman smiled keenly at her reflection in the mirror. She looked much like Audrey Hepburn, she thought, turning her head so to see her profile in the mirror. Cat like eyes and dark hair, black silk worn over her light skin, and her grandmother’s oh so lovely pearls that rest above her collarbone. “You,” the woman said, grinning ear to ear, “are gorgeous, darling.”
The woman grinned again at the dinner table, when her mother complimented her on her dress and asked her daughter shyly if she were going to a costume party. The woman’s poor, dear old mother simply didn’t understand. She was old and ill and she herself had been cast to care for her in her mother’s time of being elderly. She did not mind so much living again in the same house with her mother, but it certainly did not make time enough to go to ridiculous costume parties. No, she was only dressing for who she was. But beside the fact, it might be better if her mother believed that her daughter were going to a party, so that is what she told her with a kind smile, a pat on the arm, and a promise that she would be back before midnight.
It must have been an absolutely spectacular night. A night so fun, so crazy, so mad, that the woman couldn’t remember one bit. Yes, she must have had the night of her life. She smiled at the mere thought of her mad time, stretching her limbs out over the carpet she lay on. Why, she’d had such a wonderous time she hadn’t even had the will to make it to the comfort of her bed sheets. She sat up slowly, stretching her willowy arms as she did so. Once up, she yawned and ran her fingers through her chestnut shaded hair, long enough to sway just above the tops of her hip bones. The realization immediately came upon her that the use of a comb was in desperate need. And a shower as well, she thought to herself, as she pulled her hand away from her hair and saw with a surprise that her knuckles were covered with shiny crimson and bruising scabs. She could have sworn she even saw bits of glass stuck in her skin. “How unladylike,” she said aloud, to herself. “a lady does not exist in the disgusting presence of blood.”
Sighing as a lady would when covered in unwanted blood, she pushed herself up from her position on the floor and hobbled away to her bedroom, as somehow her left heel had broken off during the night. My mother must still be wasting the day away with her face buried in her pillow, she thought as she made her way past the empty kitchen table. Drooling, no doubt. Thank goodness she had such a wondrous daughter to make up for all her awfulness.
The woman hummed a light tune as she limped through her bedroom, and stopped so suddenly she shocked herself once she saw her reflection in her vanity mirror. She herself looked very fine, but her own beauty was not what shocked her so. She knew that when she had left her home the evening of yesterday she had worn a single strand of her grandmother’s lovely pearls around her neck. Now, at this moment, she did not wear one single strand of her grandmother’s pearls. Eighty-nine to one hundred pearls, she estimated, wound around her neck, resting from her shoulders as if a scarf and drooping as far to the start of her pantline. All most definitely, completely, real. All that was missing were her grandmother’s second rope of pearls, surely tucked away somewhere in her vanity mirror. The woman let an expression of confusion concerning the state of her reflection and how it came to be slip across her face for only a moment, before she let a smile spread over her lips and awe fill her blue eyes. She was filled with such happiness she forgot about taking her shower and decided she were going to make her poor mother breakfast. In times of joy, she couldn’t help but contribute to charity.
When the woman emerged from her bedroom, eyes bright and hands caressing the jewelry that surrounded her, she saw that her mother sat at the previously empty kitchen table. Her hair stuck up around her head in wispy toughs, and makeup she had not taken off before going to bed smeared over her cheeks like dirt, just a complete mess. She sat at the round oak kitchen table on the chair that sat closest to the wall, sunken into herself. She stared at the dark brown wood, smiling, caught up in her own, separate little world. Her elbows were relaxed on the table’s surface, her hands far out in front of her. The woman noticed as she walked to the kitchen where the ingredients for breakfast might be, that in her fingers she fiddled with something white and shiny. Something very similar in appearance those the woman had covering her chest. In between her mother’s dirty fingers, was the second strand.
“Mother,” she said, her voice emotionless. But her mother did not reply, still hiding within her own head. Her mother’s fingers pulled on the delicate pearls, so much that the woman winced, fear filling her bosom.
“Mother,” she said again.
“Take them,” A voice whispered in her ear, a familiar voice. One from her crazy night, perhaps.
“Take them?” The woman asked perplexedly.
“Take them,” The familiar voice repeated.
The woman suddenly stood up straighter at hearing the voice once more. She was composed. She was a lady. She looked down at the cascade of shiny white that spilled over her torso, to her crimson covered fist, to her despiteful mother.
She replied with a ladylike smile. “Take them.”
Red, was most certainly her color, the woman thought as she stared lovingly at herself in her mirror. She was covered in red, from head to toe, and she wished that she had thought of this red as an accessory much sooner. It worked oh so better than blush, and it brought out her eyes. The woman could not stop grinning as she beamed at the image in the glass, twirling her noticeably darker hair in between her fingers and rearranging the pinkish pearls in an attractive way over her body. Ninety to one hundred and one now.
The woman could have admired herself for hours and hours if it were not for the uninvited interruption she received. Three crisp knocks on the door. She thought maybe if she just ignored her visitor… but two more knocks made her stand up and head toward the door. Whomever it was was obviously not going to leave without an answer. As she went she passed the kitchen and the empty kitchen table and the living room and the black screened TV, finally making it to the door. She opened it wide, her grin still present.
“Why hello, officer,” she smiled. “how are you on this fine day?”
Back and forth, back and forth. Back and forth, back and forth… back again. The tiny white pearl stopped, having hit a wall and no longer having the ability to roll over the smooth surface of the table. The woman scooped the pretty sphere up into her palm and held it up close to her right eye, her left hand automatically following her right one. It was not it’s original white, the pearl, but most of the crimson overlay had gone and disappeared from her having washed it along next to her hands so often. She only wished it held all of it’s predecessors on a string with it. Though it still remained beautiful, catching the fluorescent light above the woman and reflecting it in her tired eyes.
When the door opened with a loud pounding against the wall, the woman sat there still inspecting her most prized possession. But when she saw the two people who had entered the grey room, she paused what she was doing and set her hands down on the darker grey table, balling the pearl into the protection of her right fist. As they approached her, she looked up at them. Even if she were to have wanted to stand, she was restricted by her own ankles, which were shackled to the floor. Unfortunately she could not even attempt to pick the lock with her long nails, for the chain that attached her cuffed hands to the metal table was not nearly long enough.
The duo of people made their way, slowly, to the two chairs that had been placed on the other side of the table and positioned evenly across from her, sitting down once they reached them. The man set a tan folder down on the table, almost overflowing with the papers that filled it, while the female remained silent, her hands at her sides and her dark blue policeman’s uniform making her out to be quite dull in appearance. Not one ounce of expression existed on her dark face, though the bun that tightly pulled her hair back created false wrinkles around her eyes and on her short forehead.
“Hello, Miss Smith,” the man greeted her, a too happy smile on his face.
When the woman said nor did nothing but stared at him, the man continued with more fictitious joy.
“How are you today, Miss Smith?” He opened up a folder with one hand, and pulled out a pen with another, beginning to write on something inside the folder. “How is your eye feeling?” He asked with what he tried to pass along as concern.
Instinctively the woman moved her hands to touch the black eye that was her left eye, but brought them back down to the table after noticing the slight movement of the female officer’s arm sliding up to rest by the belt on her waist.
“I heard about what happened yesterday, in the common room?” The woman did not respond. “In med line?” Nothing. “You hit Miss Anne Gray for… a reason we are not sure of?” The woman tilted her head slightly at him, to the left. “Miss Gray?” He repeated, writing unknown things down as he spoke.
“Miss Smith, I am afraid we are going to have to put you in solitary if one more incident like this happens again, and we don’t know the reason as to why.”
The woman tilted her head further to the left, and let a half smile slip across her pretty face.
Tell him. Tell the fool. The voice whispered in her ear, demanding, familiar, friendly. Finally, it was back. She was starting to fear that spitting out her medicine in the toilet once she put the pills in the back of her mouth as she had been for the past few weeks, would not be enough.
The woman couldn’t help feeling a bit proud when she suddenly sat up straight, whipping her head up so fast that the man of inquisition jumped in his seat.
“Miss Smith?” He asked again, with that concern he loved so dearly.
“I,” the woman said, surprising even the officer with her once, now rough and scratchy, nice sounding voice. She wished she had her hair to twirl in her fingers, but it had been cut off, the ends no longer than the nape of her neck. She supposed it made them upset when she attempted to use her long hair to strangle her room mate. But that ridiculous girl was so irritating. “am not Miss Smith.”
The woman pounded her right fist on the hard table. The sound echoed around the room and bounced off of her eardrums. It was beautiful. “I said. I. Am not. Miss. Smith.”
“Okay--” The woman pounded her fist on the table again before he could say the word. That ugly, ugly word.
“You fool, you awful, awful, stupid fool. You all think you are smarter than me. Smarter than me,” the woman laughed. Her laugh was still quite pretty. “I am gorgeous. Amazing. No one in this place, with your stupid pills and your stupid shrinks and your stupid ‘recovering’ people you fill up these awful walls with. No one here is smarter than I. You are all fools.”
Taking advantage of the man’s shock at her outrage, the woman launched her torso across the surface of the table as far as the chains would let her and snatched the man’s pen that lay atop the stack of papers with her left hand and deftly inserted it into the skin of the inquisitor’s forearm. Immediately red appeared over his skin like a fountain, a waterfall. It had been a long time since the woman had seen that beautiful color.
The woman sat back, relaxed, and opened her fist to stare at the beloved pearl in her palm. The pearl was the last thing she saw before the officer stood up with something menacing in her hand, something that sent an electric current through the woman’s body and sent her vision tumbling into darkness.
Good, they thought it would be. Good, to travel cross-country on a plane by her lonesome and get off in a place she’d never seen before, then live with people she did not know one bit. A special home they called it, where they said she would be rehabilitated to the world. And good they said it was, so good she agreed wholeheartedly. Anne Smith only knew that she longed to be somewhere else other than that stuffy hospital. She could not remember the last time she’d truly felt free. Well, she could she supposed… but she had been taught not to think about those things, those dark times, they called them.
Anne Smith stared down at her lap blankly, only seeing the wordy pages of the open book sitting there. Might have been some book by Judy Blume, started with a D… Dear? Dean? Something like that. She wouldn’t know. The medicine coursing through her veins didn’t give her enough concentration to do something silly like read anyhow.
So she continued to stare, at the book, the seats in front of her, the people to her left and the man to her right, the very short nails on her pale fingers. Who decided that a four hour plane ride would be a good idea? Someone without a very quantitative number of thoughts in their brain no doubt. Though she was quite relishing this time alone. After she did not know how many months and months spent in that colorless place, though somebody would be at the airport for her as soon as she arrived and airplane security or whomever had been notified of her, Anne Smith had been trusted enough to to travel on a plane without anyone to babysit her. She never thought the simpleness of independance could possibly feel so exhilarating.
And in truth, Anne Smith had never been so excited to get where she was headed. At the white place, they had made her think up goals and dreams and things she longed to do with her life. She had decided her dream was to be a fashion designer. With a specialty in jewelry, to be specific. She wanted to make people look beautiful.
It had been almost four long hours since Anne Smith had boarded the airline, and six longer hours since the last dose of her medication. Fortunately Anne Smith’s doctors had thought ahead and gifted her medicine to the nurse they made sure was on the plane with Miss Smith, though Miss Smith was unaware of this. Unfortunately Anne Smith’s nurse was very tired after spending the previous night taking care of her flu ridden son. A flight attendant was the one to wake her up after the plane had landed safely.
Anne Smith stood amid a crowd of people, people flying by in either direction, people waiting like her and people holding up signs like the one she was trying to find. She looked for the familiar letter S of her surname written on one of the signs, but she did not yet see one. She settled into a waiting stance, leaning her weight onto her right foot and pushing down the handle on her small suitcase. Whomever was planning to retrieve her would arrive to the airport soon enough.
She people watched as she waited, patiently. A man leaned against the wall not too far away from her, the one she sat next to on the plane, she realized. He had dark auburn skin, as if he spent a lot of time in the sun, and dark hair. He wore a business suit, and kept checking the watch on his wrist, repeatedly, as if his arm were going through mechanical failure. On a bench not too far to her left, there was a young girl, sitting next to a large black purse surely saving the seat of her mother. Her blonde hair fell in front of one eye, while her other one stayed glued to the little screen that sat in her hand. Stupid girl. She didn’t realize what the world could offer her. She was completely selfish. The woman’s eyes drifted, suddenly, as if blown by the wind in an odd direction, or as if her head had been given a push the other way.
Her vision closed in on one person, standing behind a desk not too far away from her. Every noise around her became static, everybody blurred away, all but for this one person. The woman’s feet started forward through the crowd, leaving her suitcase behind to be kicked out of the way by irritated strangers. The woman did not care. She did not care about her tiny suitcase, nor her hopes and dreams, the hospital or the special home, nor the tired nurse having a breakdown as she searched frantically for the insane woman in every corner of the airport.
“Hello, how can I help you today, Miss?” The person on the other side of the desk smiled as the woman approached her, greeting her with the words she’d been trained to say.
The woman was silent as she stared at this person in front of her. Middle age, perhaps. Very thin and not too tall, deep laugh lines, a bad haircut and an even worse dye job. The woman could see the silver peeking out from her roots. Red did not do the best in covering grey hair. And the dress she wore… just awful. The only bit of taste that existed on this person was the necklace that rested on her collarbones.
“I know,” the woman answered, feeling a grin spread across her face. The first real smile that she had felt in a long, long time.
“What was that, Miss?”