My Mother’s Necklace
A million questions flooded into my mind as I headed down the deserted hallway. “Is Dad hurt? Is something wrong with Mom? Did someone die…? No, no anything but that. But as of right now, anything is possible. No, Anna, don’t think that way.” I quickly rushed toward my lofty faded blue locker to put my books away. Mom has never called me out of school before, why today? The lady also said that it was urgent. I slammed my locker shut and aimed for the front office. It was just a typical day in Spanish until I was given a pass and practically thrust out of the door. The older lady who had given me the pass seemed very anxious for me to leave. She nervously explained to me that there was a family emergency and that I needed to leave the building as soon as possible. “A family emergency?” The words seemed to linger at the back of my throat, leaving an awful acidic aftertaste. These words, and this taste, were new to me. What could they mean? Before I knew it, I was standing eagerly at the front office of the school impatiently tapping my foot in an eighth note rhythm. “Where is Mom?” I silently mumbled to myself. “And what about Amy? How long can it take someone to go to their locker? I wonder if she even knows what is going on?” Just as I slightly anchored my head to see if my sister had made it to the front, a tan-colored object caught the corner of my eye. It was mom driving our fairly new Montana van. “Finally,” I thought as I hurried to the car.
The fresh, crisp scent of the van sent a message of comfort, as I physically braced myself for the news that was about to change my life forever.
“Girls,” my Mom squeaked, “Now don’t be alarmed. It’s nothing bad…” The anticipation of it all was slowly decaying away my insides.
“You know that necklace that I always wear, the one that dad gave to me?” I held my breath wondering where my mother could be going with this statement. “Well, I accidentally threw it out when I threw away my old purse. It’s in the back inside pocket…”
“Mom.” I stopped her abruptly in mid-sentence, “What’s the family emergency?” The seriousness in my voice startled me.
“Well, that’s what I’m getting at. You see, when I went to go put my necklace on it was nowhere to be found. Then it occurred to me that I had left it in the purse that I just threw out the day the garbage came.”
“Mom.” I stopped her again, this time my voice was uncontrollably shaking. I felt the dam that was holding in my past ten minutes of unknown emotion was on the brink of erupting. “Why did you take us out of school under the title of a family emergency?” Still in denial about this energy-draining experience, I continued to believe that this was not, indeed, about a necklace. It had to be about something more important.
“Are you okay sweetie?” my Mom asked. That was the password to unlock my waterfall of tears.
“No, I’m not. I was rushed out of the doors of school, without any knowledge of what was going on, and you tell me that you threw out your necklace?!” I began to sob. Mom waited patiently as my wails and cries simmered down to a pitiful sniff.
“I need to go to the dump today. Actually, right now, before they dump it out of the truck into an even bigger pile. Can you guys please help me? This necklace is of great sentimental value, I just need to get it.” Her eyes began to mist and I knew that I would regret not showing more sympathy.
“Okay, I’ll help you look for it,” I said calmly.
“Amy,” Mom questioned, “Can you watch Adam while Anna and I look for the necklace?”
“Sure,” she replied sounding surprisingly happy, “I’d rather do that than dig through trash.”
“Why?” I thought, “How bad could it be?”
“So, you are the ones that are going through all that trash to look for a necklace,” laughed a man that looked like a younger version of Santa Claus. The gleam in his eye seemed to enlarge as he chuckled and said, “You know, it’s going to be hard to find it in ten tons of trash.” I laughed right along with him. I imagined my mom and I searching through piles upon piles of other people’s trash to look for…a NECKLACE! Now that would be humorous!
“Here, follow me.” He said while directing me and my mother to a huge and foul-smelling garage. “This is even bigger than double the size of our two-story house,” I thought as I examined the enormity of the place. To my left side there were stacks and stacks of cardboard. It was intimidating to look above and witness piles that were over eleven times my height. To my far right were three enormous leaf green garbage trucks placed side by side.
“Stand clear,” the young Sana Claus commanded as one of the gigantic trucks crawled its way toward the center of the garage. It stopped and sounded as though all the parts from the inside bunched together and clattered to the ground.
“Here is the garbage truck that went down your street two days ago. Your bag should be in there somewhere in that ten tons of trash.” This time the man did not laugh when he said ten tons, nor did he even smile. He was deadly serious. The image I had earlier of my mom and I engulfed in what was literally tons of trash was becoming a reality.
“Okay!” the man yelled, “Let it go!” With that simple cue the back of the garbage truck started to creep up. It revealed what I could only describe as a horror show. Black and white bags of all sizes poured out of the truck like gravy out of a saucer. The worst part was that the bags didn’t show any sign of stopping. They just kept surging out of the truck. I began to tear up as I discovered what the first five tons looked like…then the six…then the seven, the eight, the nine, and then finally, the ten tons of trash. The noise that accompanied the trash hitting the ground caused me to put both of my hands over my fragile ears. I was so focused on the amount of trash before me that I didn’t realize the smell that complimented it until after the dumping had ceased. I hope to never again put my nostrils through such misery. The only smells that were of slight familiarity to me were that of the remains of many old decaying banana peels, coffee grounds, some old perfume, yesterday’s leftover meatloaf, and at least a million dirty diapers. As the truck pulled away, so did my faith of finding the necklace. I glanced over at Mom and could tell that she was probably thinking precisely the same thing.
“Don’t worry Mom,” I said aloud, “We will find it.” I was taken back at how self-assured I had sounded. She offered me the shield that would protect my hands from the countless amounts of germs I was about to contact. She offered me gloves.
“Okay ladies,” young Santa said, “Let’s get to it.”
I looked around for the best passageway to the most “familiar looking” trash. I didn’t find one. I was tremendously grateful to see that the man who was joking with us earlier was actually helping us look. Two other men that worked there joined in as well. I was overjoyed to see people willing to help my mom out, a task which was neither easy nor fun.
“Here is the bag that me and my husband use,” Mom said as she waved around the bag to show the Good Samaritans. Fortunately, it was an uncommonly used type of bag, which narrowed down the search, only by a little. I picked up the first bag that looked similar to the one my mom had set aside, and slowly started to break it open. My eyes filled with tears as the scent of the garbage almost knocked me off of my feet. “This person must have cleaned out their refrigerator of items that were no longer made in this century!” I thought. I slowly stuck my arm in the bag and carefully forced my body forward to move around items that were beyond my recognition. I didn’t see anything that belonged to my family so I closed it up and tossed it to the side. This process went on for half an hour before my mother showed signs of excitement. “This is one of our bags!” she exclaimed. I nearly tripped as I ran over to see what the treasures of the bag would hold.
“Look!! Here are the Harry Potter plates that I bought on sale! And the flowers!” She was a mole burrowing to her place of safety. Trash flew out of the bag and within one minute it was completely torn and empty. No purse and no necklace. The search continued. I climbed my way to the middle of the mount of trash, spotting something that looked familiar. On my way to the center I stepped on a bag that was not made with much durability. I looked down and noticed a dark red substance that oozed out of the corner of the bag. The ooze grew into one huge glob of chunky salsa spilling all over my white and silver striped shoe. The thought of someone else putting the salsa into their mouth made my whole body shudder. I ultimately made my way to the center and slashed open the identifiable Hefty bag. Inside there were countless amounts of used tissue. “Oh no. I am going to get sick from this for sure. Mom owes me big time,” I thought as I pitched the bag aside. Under the bag was something that made me want to rush out of that place promising never to come back. It was an old, overused, rusty toilet seat. I immediately left the core and worked my way toward my mom. An hour had passed since we first arrived and I was about ready to give up because the task seemed impossible.
“Thank you God!” I heard my mom screech as I quickly turned around to see her holding her broken navy blue purse. She clumsily opened the button and peeped inside. My heart stopped. If it wasn’t in the purse my mom would be devastated, she would give up, and this would be the end. “Yes! Oh thank you!! Thank you! Thank you!!” Mom repeated over and over while crying and hugging all of the brave men that serviced us so well. She had found her precious necklace.
On the way home I told my mom that she owed me. She turned to me and said, “Well, when I pass away, you can have this necklace.”
“Great, so I can go digging through the trash for it when I accidentally throw it out?” I replied sarcastically.
“Yep,” my mom replied with a smile. Thanks Mom.
I felt like sharing this paper that I wrote in High School for those that haven’t seen it before. I wrote it several years ago and still think of it often. For those that don’t know it’s National Novel Writing Month and I am participating by writing a novel of my own which relates to this particular piece. I’m not sure if it’s something that I’m going to publish yet, as it’s still a work in progress and sort of personal, but it’s something that has been gnawing at me since I wrote this over 10 years ago now. Finally getting some of it out on paper has been cathartic and I hope you enjoyed this little piece that inspired me!
For anyone out there reading this that feels like they need a little release: Try your hand at writing or a personal journal…I believe it’s good for the soul! <3 Also for those of you that are also participating in Nano this year I say: Good luck!! This feels like no easy task and I commend you greatly. We can do this! I’m finally getting my first draft out of my mind and onto paper. Baby steps. <3
AND STAY TUNED for next week’s blog post!! I’ve recruited some outside talent to post and I’m excited for what she will come up with!