In response to The Daily Prompt: What’s the oldest thing you own? (Toys, clothing, twinkies, Grecian urns: anything’s fair game.) Recount its history — from the object’s point of view.
Worthless. That’s what they called me when I first arrived to the house in Stuttgart and was placed in the jewelry box. The pearls in their embroidered silk pouch took the greatest offense to my presence, but all the jewels were scornful. They would sneer to each other, “She’s costume, you know. Not worth a thing.” I was the height of fashion in 1935, I want you to know, but they were right; I was merely brass and cut glass, totally worthless.
Now I am old and live in Virginia and I often think back to those days wondering where the pearls, Japanese and impossibly proud, ended up. Were they broken apart and sold off, one lustrous pearl at a time? Oh, how they would have howled. We were the last two pieces left in the box, long after the bombs began to shake us violently out of our sleep.
When I was new to the house, the box would open each morning and the lady would tenderly move us about, choosing one or two to adorn her that day. But the high drone of airplanes and their thunder began and the lady stopped coming to the box. It seemed that months would go by without any of us being brought out into the light. Early one morning, just before Christmas, the box was abruptly opened and the amethyst earrings removed. They never returned.
We weren’t frightened at first. Jewelry gets lost or given away. Maybe one of the little girls in the house now had the purple gems in her own box, and we would see them glistening in her ears on one of our infrequent outings. But slowly, one by one, the occupants of the box – the gold bracelet, the cameo – dwindled away until it was just me and the pearls. So elegant were they, fine Japanese beauties, glowing with a soft pink sheen and reclining luxuriously in their silken bed. How clumsy and awkward they made me feel.
One gray morning the box opened and the lady, still in her long nightgown, gently removed the pearls, lovingly running her long fingers all along the softly shimmering strand. Clutching them to her throat, she suddenly tossed them roughly back into the box and closed it. It was the first time the pearls had slept outside their silken pouch.
They were r emoved the next morning and never returned. I waited, alone, in the dark for my turn which came, unexpectedly, after many long days of thunder. The lady gathered me up quickly with her papers and some money and stitched me into the lining of her coat. We boarded a train for the safety of the Austrian mountains and stayed there for many long months. I stayed safe in the dark comfort of her coat.
We returned eventually to the house, and I went into a new box. One of the girls, grown up now, had me and she would take me out often holding her hand up to her face in the mirror and smiling. I traveled with her to a new country and as I grew older, it mattered less to me whether I was chosen or not.
And now that girl has grown old too and given me to her own daughter. She doesn’t take me out very often either, but she does cherish me just the way my first lady did with her pearls. I can tell by how she holds me and because I now have my own silken pouch.
It’s nice to know I’m no longer worthless.