The Diamond Necklace






The Diamond Necklace

 

There was a day when I found a diamond necklace on the shelf outside one of the he women’s shower stalls. As if someone took it off to shower. As if she wore it all time. You don’t see many diamond necklaces in the dorm, though I suspect some of the valuables are hidden in dressers or locked filing cabinets or safes for those business majors inclined to have such things.

             The necklace seemed to attract every bit of light it could find in the shadows of its dark corner, and reflect them back two to three times as brightly. I’d never seen anything so bright, so shiny in the dorm, let alone the bathroom.

             I picked up the necklace in my fingers, looped it so the chain was pinned with my thumb on one side, index and middle fingers on the other. Three diamonds, two littler ones and a bigger one in the center. I don’t know anything about karats or clarity, only that I remember my father bragging about such metrics when he showed off my stepmother’s ring, emphasis on how much nicer a ring it was than the one he’d been able to afford for Mom.

            The necklace in my hand had to be worth money. Even if the diamonds were fake, it was pretty—would have to sell for twenty, thirty bucks. And if they were real? Probably hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars.

            Anything valuable we found, we were supposed to bring to the Residence Director. The woman who oversaw the RAs, who was in charge of the building. The one who made gross kids who did bad things do community service or write letters of apology.

            We were supposed to bring things like the necklace to her, but my first day, Louis, who always wore a baseball cap and had a missing incisor, so he always whistled when he talked, told me it doesn’t always happen that way. That one time, he found somebody’s watch in a lounge, brought it to a pawn shop that same day, and walked out with a hundred dollars cash. That nobody needs to know.

            And I thought about it. That I might turn this necklace into a new computer. A month’s rent. A real vacation with a hotel and everything, just me out of town and at peace with a hot tub in the bathroom and HBO when I went to bed.

            And I thought of all the mean girls. The ones who looked at me when they were talking in the hallway and had left their doors propped open as if they thought I would go in and steal something. The ones who didn’t say anything when I said good morning, the ones who put their hands up when they passed me, as if to not only avoid contact, but show the world they were avoiding contact, lest anyone think they had touched me and caught the weird-poor-stupid disease I must carry. There were a lot of girls I wouldn’t feel bad to see crying because they’d lost their necklaces. Not that bad, at least.

            I went so far as to put the necklace into the pocket of my jeans, just to see how it felt. Test the weight of it. It’s not like it would do any good carrying it in plain sight anyway, where anyone looking would know it wasn’t mine and anyone might claim it, not necessarily the girl it belonged to, but anyone, and how was that better than me having it?

            You could see the outline of it in my pocket, I could tell right away. Anyone looking might spot it. I imagined the scenario of one of the nice girls who does say hi—maybe the one who hugged me on her way out the door to see her family at Thanksgiving time—sitting in the lounge, crying over the lost necklace with her friends around her, only for one of them—probably one of the men—those big boys who wandered the hallways in their bare feet as if they were proud of their warts and horned toenails—spotted my pocket and confronted me. Maybe they’d all rough me up, and at the least they’d bring me to the RD or to Big Bill and report that I was a thief and I’d lose my job. Get fired, and then I’d have no job references either. I’d probably have to work fast food. That’s if no one called the cops and I wasn’t on my way to jail. Jail meant criminal background checks that came up shady, and no job at all.

             I kept my hand over my pocket as I walked.

            More than unemployment and jail and humiliation, I thought about the nice girl—I think her name is Kelsey. I thought maybe the necklace was an heirloom. Maybe something her mother left her before she disappeared, like my mother left behind books I kept meaning to read, but never did because if I finished all of them, somehow, that would make Mom more gone, so I just kept them and kept them and studied the covers sometimes, or read a random page, but never more than a chapter.

            If anyone broke into my apartment, they could take my wallet, the TV, the nice blender I never used. Take it all, but not the books.

            This necklace.

            I brought it to the RD, whose eyes went wide, and I wondered if it occurred to her to keep it or sell it, too. She thanked me liked I’d done something great—more than the decent thing, more than the rule.

            And I went back to my normal life.

 
Michael Chin

 

Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and his hybrid chapbook, The Leo Burke Finish, is available now from Gimmick Press. He won Bayou Magazine's Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has work published or forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, Passages North, and Hobart.  He works as a contributing editor for Moss. Find him online at miketchin.com or follow him on Twitter @miketchin.

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