I shifted the heavy books in my backpack and kicked the crushed soda can down the street…at the street sign. “Goal!” It clanked against the metal. Hickory Street. Mom had said, “Turn right on Hickory; the school will be on your left. I’m sure you’ll make friends and be happy here.”
Yah, right. I wish we didn’t have to move to the projects. Couldn’t they make enough money to keep our old apartment? Why were they called projects anyway? A project is something worked on – these apartments haven’t been worked on in a long time.
I was sure everyone in sixth grade would have a friend already, and not want to make friends with the new poor girl.
As I turned the corner, land opened up to stretches of green grass framed with picket fences, flowering trees, pink hydrangea bushes, and homes the size of hotels. I looked down at my tired clothing, beat up sneakers, and sweatshirt with the broken zipper, and felt like I ruined the scenery.
I kicked the can and sent it rolling off the sidewalk, under a parked car. Squatting on the cement, I reached behind the front tire until I felt something cold beneath my fingers. I pulled out a gold necklace with a heart pendant, lined with diamonds. A ruby stone filled the center. It was the most beautiful thing I ever held. The diamonds glistened and the ruby had flat sections that created flickering shadows like a disco ball.
I fastened the clasp around my neck. It tickled. I became a beautiful princess…the richest girl in the world! I piled my hair into a bun and admired my reflection in the car window. Wow! Imagine if I were rich and lived in that mansion. The home across the street had a mile long driveway leading to a locked gate. A fairy tale home with towers for Rapunzel.
The school bell rang across the field. I grabbed my backpack and ran…a princess should never be late. I tucked the necklace into my collar. Who knew what thieves could be lurking in the classroom.
I didn’t have a friend to share my secret with, so I daydreamed. Maybe I’ll serve tea today in golden cups…or sail away on my yacht.
For three days, I wore the necklace to school. No one noticed until Rose did in gym class. After turning a cartwheel, she stuck her face two inches from mine and stared at the necklace. “Where did you get that?”
“My grandma gave it to me.”
She glared. “I don’t believe you. That’s my necklace…I lost it last week.”
“It’s mine.” The bell rang and I ran out the door.
At home, I pulled the curtain that served as a door to my room and placed the necklace in a box in my top drawer. I didn’t own a jewelry box.
Rose didn’t need this necklace. She wore a new outfit and different necklaces to school every day. She rode home in a limo to that house with the towers and long driveway.
The next day, I didn’t wear the necklace. I couldn’t look Rose in the eye when she sat next to me.
“Please look at the back of the heart,” she pleaded. “It’s engraved with the words: ‘To Ruby, You’re a precious jewel. Love, Robert.’ My dad gave the necklace to my mom before they got married. He died when I was two and my mom gave it to me. I have plenty of things, but I don’t have any memories of him.”
“I told you my grandma gave it to me.” I could picture my grandma handing me the beautiful box with a gold ribbon.”
A tear fell on Rose’s cheek. “Please look at the heart.”
A lump formed in the back of my throat when I turned the heart over and saw the engraved words. I wanted to keep the necklace, my only treasure, but I couldn’t. I wrapped it in a tissue and tucked it away in my backpack.
I sat next to Rose and placed the necklace in her hands. “Here. I’m sorry. I found it and thought it was so beautiful…sorry I didn’t tell you the truth.”
She smiled. “Thank you. Would you like to come to my house after school and jump on the trampoline?”
I never owned anything as beautiful as that necklace, but Rose became my friend that day, a better treasure than anything I could own.
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