Cherry Blossom, traditional symbol of love and joy, promoting love and spiritual awareness.

The girl passed the jeweller’s shop every day on her way to work; a humble job in a little office, her duties mainly involved filing, typing up notes and running out for coffee and sandwiches. She earned enough to pay the rent on her tiny flat, be up to date with all her bills and maintain some semblance of independence. She was always glad when the end of the month came, but with careful budgeting she had enough for a few small luxuries, the occasional trip to the cinema with one of her friends, a nice skirt or pretty blouse.

The jeweller’s shop called to her: every day she passed she allowed herself a few moments to wonder at the treasures on display. Pearls, soft and sheened with moonlight reposing upon purple velvet. Diamond bracelets hanging nonchalantly from padded racks. Emeralds, as green as the grass she could see in the park from her flat, set in sumptuous gold rings.

The window display changed from week to week, sometimes as she was actually passing. Her eyes would meet the ice blue gaze of the immaculately coiffed blonde assistant, trickling gold chains across cream damask, some as thin as spider silk, others thick enough to dent the skin of her tender throat. The blonde assistant would pause pityingly as if to say: “Move on dear, nothing in your price range here.” The girl would turn and hurry away, the blush of the only just solvent staining her cheeks.

One summer’s day, as she walked carefully up the cobbled street, her eye was caught by a new item, not centre stage, but off set, as if wondering at the splendour of the ruby necklace that glowed like lava. This item was a little ring, a pale gold circlet that held an old fashioned cushion cut sapphire. These gems did not usually draw her, compelled as she was by the glitter and glamour of sensuous rubies, a showy sparkle of diamonds; yet this sapphire was different.

She approached the window and dared to lean in closer. The sapphire’s glow warmed her, and spoke to her of azure seas and soft blue sky. She noticed, with a little heart leap of joy that its discreet price tag bore a figure that to her, was manageable. She hurried back to the office resolving that very day to ask for some overtime, even though the clerk from the neighbouring office had just asked her out for dinner.

The months passed: every pay day she put a little more in her special tin and knew she was a little closer to owning the ring that called so eloquently to her. She had started a tentative relationship with the young clerk, and she felt a certain fondness as he clutched her hand in the dark at the cinema, or brushed her cheek chastely with his dry lips at the end of a pleasant evening together.

She had managed to slip into the jeweller’s as she saw the intimidating sales assistant leave for her lunch break, and ask the kindly manager to tuck her ring into a little seen case of odds and ends, vintage pieces of topaz and strange remnants of suffragette jewellery, shoulder to shoulder with mourning brooches and tarnished gold lockets.

She checked her tin at the end of the next month, she realised joyfully she had enough to purchase her ring – outright, no credit plans for her! The very next day she hurried to the shop, her neat black shoes tapping rapidly on the cobbles. With the assurance of a full purse, she pushed the door open and strode confidently to the corner where her ring lay. Heartbreak! Where was it? Where it should be, sat an ugly Victorian Jet brooch, squat and toad like.

“May I offer you any assistance?” the smooth, accentless voice of the assistant rang, bell-like from behind her.

“No– no, that is– no.” The girl’s ears burned and her eyes stung with disappointment. She returned to her flat and spent a miserable afternoon tidying and preparing a meal for the clerk.

That evening, he seemed strangely excited, the significant looks and lingering touches unnerved her. She began to feel a little claustrophobic in her flat, as he left his shoes carelessly near the door, cumbersome and brown. She frowned, slightly, as he slung his jacket across the bannister. His maleness seemed oppressive, and although generally sweet-tempered, she began to feel positively irritated.

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Viola flowers, meaning you’re worthy of affection and praise, with Blue Lace Agate, a nurturing stone that soothes, calms and promotes communication.

As she cleared away the dishes from their meal, he took her by the shoulders, his palms hot and sticky against the thin cotton of her blouse and turned her around.

She felt a cold dismay: he had fallen to one knee and held outstretched, almost pleadingly, a little velvet box of dusty pink, shaped like a pirate’s treasure chest. Within it, cushioned between two plump buttocks of white satin, was her ring – her ring!

The clerk knelt before her, supplicating, yet the next words from his mouth fell upon her ears like clods of earth on a coffin.

“Will you marry me?”

She glanced at her ring. It flashed, promising blue encircled by heavenly gold, then the scales fell from her eyes. It was as if a thundercloud had passed across a summer sky. The rich blue turned to tarnished grey, the gold to tawdry tin.

All that promise, to a dull badge of servitude.

All photos were taken by my son!

Copyright © 2016 Samantha Murdoch

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15 thoughts on “Promise

  1. Great short story! I thought it was going to be an O’Henry “Gift of the Magi”-style ending, but I liked your unexpected twist. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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