A daughter, let's call her Anna, sees her reflection
in the glass beads strung together in a necklace
wrapped with a label in her mother's writing.
The mother calls to check Anna received the gift
and says it was bought as a present for the mother
from an antique fair so is genuine Whitby jet.
Anna lets the recycled gift comment pass, but
raises an eyebrow at being told the beads are genuine.
She tests them: they are fake.
Politeness demands Anna thanks her mother
for the gift. Anna knows if she doesn't wear
the beads in her mother's company, her mother
will demand to know their whereabouts
and why Anna is so ungrateful. If guests
are present, Anna's failing will be made public.
And what sort of daughter wouldn't be gracious
about receiving a gift, even if recycled? What daughter
wouldn't be delighted in a fake antique necklace?
And the guests, who might be forced to choose
between believing a mother's apparent generosity
or a daughter's claim of worthlessness,
which side will they take? Anna partially cuts
the string. In her mother's shadow, it takes a quick tug
to break and let the beads fall to the floor.
Guests scurry to help collect scattered beads.
Anna's mother stands rigid. Anna, now without
necklace, expresses gratitude to the guests.
- Emma Lee