“It’s not much ma’am; a purse is all we have besides….” The young officer hesitates to continue.
Darcy takes the small oval handbag from the officer and puts it in her lap. She runs her hands over its pink glittered texture. The clasp is gilded in gold and a thin chain is tucked inside. With a deep breath, she opens it. Inside is a tiny coin bag with a couple of dollars and some change. She sees a tube of pomegranate flavored lip balm, an old movie stub, and a perfume sample torn from a magazine. She closes the bag and takes another deep breath.
“Ma’am if you’d like for me to go in with you, I can.” Poor Officer John offers his help but he can tell it just falls flat.
With a nod, Darcy stands up and clutches the purse tight under right arm. With her left she holds onto the policeman and walks with heavy steps towards the swinging double doors ahead. Her lunch feels like it is about to come up and she stops.
“I’m so sorry and I wish you didn’t have to go in…” He wraps his arm around her and helps her through the doors and into the next room.
Darcy drops her head on his shoulder when she sees the covered form on the table in front of her. She knows without looking that it is her sweet Mandy. A thin man with chiseled good looks and wearing a lab coat is standing next to the table. He identifies himself as the coroner, Tom Stone. Darcy just nods and braces herself as he pulls back the sheet.
A scream starts to escape her but Darcy discovers she can make no sound. What she sees is beautiful and sad. Her sweet, sweet Mandy is on the table. Her face is remarkably beautiful and unscathed. Her long strawberry blonde tresses fall about her shoulders. She simply looks as though she is asleep.
“That is her. That is my Mandy.” Darcy confirms what they already know and turns to walk away.
Officer John leads her to his office so she can sign the release papers and then he will take her home. As she sits in a worn leather office chair across from his desk, she looks at the purse again. She remembers when she bought the purse for Mandy on her twelfth birthday. They were at a street carnival in Jackson City and Mandy saw it hanging on a vendor’s cart. She begged for it until Darcy gave in and handed her the five dollars to buy it. As a single mom with no help from the other parent, money was often tight. Mandy’s dad skipped out on them when she was just three. Darcy thought about trying to find him to tell him about Mandy but then decided against it.
“Ma’am, if you’ll sign right here, we’ll be done and I can drive you home.” The pen is held out to Darcy and with a shaking hand she takes it and signs the last page.
“Officer John, why do you think people take chances like she did?” Darcy’s need to know was deep now. She must know what made her daughter want to risk it all.
“Ma’am, we see it every day. Some people drive too fast, some take too many drugs, some drink too much. People take chances sometimes I guess just to feel alive.” Darcy finds the irony poignant and manages a slight smile.
The drive home is quiet and she remembers the purse again. She opens it back up and sees a small pocket in the inside wall. A tiny piece of paper is folded up. Darcy pulls it out and unfolds it. In Mandy’s neat handwriting she reads,
“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24”
Just below it was scribbled, “Must remember this”.
As she gets out of the car, Officer John tells her again how sorry he is and promises to check on her soon. Darcy nods, thanks him and gets out. In her hand she carries the small pink purse, each speck of glitter catching the sun’s rays and sending a sparkle into the yard. Top Hat, the neighbor’s cat pounces in the yard to catch each sparkle in the grass.
Darcy pats his head and says, “It’s not much cat, but it’s all we have.”
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