That was the most stunning bracelet imaginable, especially the way it matched my outfit. Dare I ask? Well, it couldn’t hurt to try!
"T alya! You have got to see the bracelet my Bubby and Zaidy got me for my birthday! They let me pick it out at Joseph’s Jewelry — can you imagine? — and it’s stunning!” Chaya interrupted our Historiah study session.
“Freeze! Don’t even think of moving from your notes!” I commanded in my most threatening tone. Yes, I did want to see the bracelet — if it was from Josephs it had to be amazing — but Chaya and I had tons left to study and I needed to leave soon. And we both needed to do well on this test.
“You are such a slave driver!” Chaya complained settling back into her seat and picked up right where we’d left off.
Chaya and I were just about done studying for our Historiah test thanks to tons of help from Above Barbecue Pringles and some well-placed threats on my part when I glanced at my watch. “It’s five to six! My father will be here any minute so I’ll have time to do my hair. We want to be on time for my cousin’s vort.”
“Okay I think we might even be ready for the test. I guess I should thank you for being such a bully,” Chaya said good-naturedly. “So what will you wear tonight?”
“My blue jumper with the silver buttons; my mother found the most perfect blue and silver shell to match. And I think my silver hoops or maybe the hanging earrings with silver orbs—” I broke off suddenly as I glimpsed Chaya’s wrist. While helping me gather my things her sleeve had pulled up revealing… Wow! Chaya had not been exaggerating; that was the most stunning bracelet imaginable especially the way it matched my outfit. Dare I ask? Well it couldn’t hurt to try!
“Chaya your bracelet is perfect and gorgeous, perfectly gorgeous! And it matches my outfit exactly! Would you could you pretty please let me wear it tonight?” I begged shamelessly.
“This? I don’t see why not; you know I trust you with my life.” (Chaya’s private joke; I’m a lifeguard at the pool where she swims) “Here,” she said as she closed the bracelet around my outstretched wrist. “You know I wanted to show you my new bracelet from Joseph’s—”
My father’s horn sounded and I grabbed Chaya for a quick hug. “Well, it’s stunning! You are the best!” I exclaimed as I raced out to the car. But really why shouldn’t she lend it to me? I am responsible you know.
I carefully unclasped the bracelet laying it in my jewelry box before taking my turn in the shower. The next hour was a frantic rush to get myself ready while also helping my little sisters since my mother had gone early to help Tante Gitty set up.
“Pretty!” Sari announced noticing my borrowed bracelet as I tied a ribbon around her curls. “You too, sweetie,” I told her, “and you have awesome taste.” Sari looked pleased with herself albeit a bit confused. Then we all piled into the van to join Cousin Chavi in celebrating her engagement.
Tante Gitty outdid herself, with Mommy’s help of course; everything looked perfect. One of the chassan’s friends brought his keyboard and his music added just the right touch. Cousin Chavi simply glowed, and it wasn’t just because of her exquisite makeup and spectacular custom gown.
“A real Yiddishe simchah!” Great Aunt Breindel kvelled as she caught me by the arm. “And let me have a look at you, Talya. Oy, what chein, kenihara! Such a beauty you are! A real princess, down to the matching jewels.” I thanked her and admired the bracelet once more, and that was it. The next time I looked at my wrist it was gone.
“Baila, help! Please!” I begged my 18-year-old cousin. “I can’t find the bracelet my friend Chaya’s grandparents just bought her from Joseph’s! You’ve gotta help me!”
“What?! Talya! You mean you borrowed an expensive bracelet, from Joseph’s, no less, that your friend just got from her grandparents?! And you lost it?! What were you thinking?!”
“Well, I didn’t think I’d lose it! You know I’m responsible!”
“No, I mean how could you borrow such a thing?!
I’m glad Baila didn’t wait for an answer because I didn’t have one, not a good one anyway. I wasn’t thinking, not about how I was taking full responsibility for anything that might happen to Chaya’s precious gift. I was irresponsible, not in the way I took care of the bracelet, but by borrowing it to begin with.
“Talya, honey, it’s really late and the kids have to get to bed. I’m sorry but we can’t stay any longer.” My mother placed her arm around my shoulders and gently steered me toward the door.
“But Ma! Chaya trusted me with that bracelet, I’ve got to find it!”
“We asked the cleanup crew to look out for it. They have our number; maybe they’ll find it when everything’s cleared up. We’ll give tzedakah at home.” Mommy was sympathetic but insistent. It was time to leave.
I didn’t get much sleep that night. I just couldn’t stop thinking about that bracelet; I wished I’d never seen it! I wished it was red and gold! I wished Chaya had said no! And I wished more than anything that I hadn’t lost it. How could I tell Chaya?! She barely even got to wear the bracelet! And how could I afford to replace it?! Though I’d never been to Joseph’s I had an idea about their prices and they were not modest. And — oh, no! — maybe Chaya’s grandparents would be upset, maybe even angry! Oh please, Hashem, let it be found!
The next day I was so exhausted and distracted in school that everyone noticed. Chaya, my wonderful Chaya, came to my rescue, excusing me. “Oh, of course you’re wiped out; you must have stayed at the vort ‘til the end. I bet you even helped clean up!” With a wan smile, I ducked out of the room, claiming to need caffeine. I was really trying to avoid Chaya but caffeine actually sounded wonderful, so I headed for the soda machine. And, instead of reviewing Historiah dates, I spent the entire walk through the halls trying to come up with something to say to Chaya.
There was only so long I could postpone the inevitable; I couldn’t avoid Chaya forever, especially since we sat next to each other in class. Chaya, Miss Speedwriter, finished the test long before I did, but, when I walked out of the room, she was standing right near the door like she was waiting for me.
“So, um, how was the test?” I asked her.
“Okay, I guess,” Chaya looked at me strangely, “but aren’t you the one who hates rehashing tests, who says once they’re over they’re best forgotten?”
“Yeah, of course. So, um—”
“I’m still waiting to hear about the vort! And I’m dying to see how you looked! So, did the bracelet really work with the outfit?”
I was starting to sweat. “Yeah, um, it was great! Everyone thought so! Thanks so much!” Well, here goes, “I, um, don’t have it—”
“Of course you don’t have it here! I didn’t expect you to wear it to school! So who was at the vort?” And with that, Chaya granted me a reprieve, at least for the school day.
I ran to my mother as soon as I got home. “Did they call? Did they find it?” I asked anxiously.
“And hello to you,” my mother teased gently, then continued sympathetically. “I’m sorry; the cleaning crew didn’t call here so I called the hall. Nothing was found.”
I guess I needed to make some phone calls.
My call to Joseph’s Jewelry was incredibly frustrating — and horrifying. I spoke with two employees and a manager, describing the bracelet in exquisite detail, but they all insisted that they didn’t stock it. Finally, I gave up and simply asked them to estimate how much such a bracelet would cost. Impossible to tell — of course it was! — but after making several assumptions we came up with a possible price tag of $300! Where would I get that from?! But I knew. I’d been saving all my lifeguarding money to pay for a post-high school trip to Eretz Yisrael; I guess I’d be dipping into that.
I think my hands were trembling when I made my next call — to Chaya. I started apologizing as soon as she answered but it didn’t quite go as planned.
“Chaya, I’m so sorry, I hope you can forgive me, especially for not telling you right away. See, I was hoping they’d find it but they didn’t so now I am telling you… I lost it! I’d give anything for it not to have happened but it did so I’m sorry and of course I’ll pay—”
“Talya! What are you talking about?”
“Your bracelet! I lost it! I wanted to just replace it but the people at Joseph’s had no idea what I was talking about!”
“Why would Joseph’s Jewelry know about the bracelet I got at Claire’s?”
“Claire’s?! I lost the bracelet your grandparents bought you from Joseph’s!”
“You never even saw that bracelet, Miss-Can’t-Stop-Studying! I never had the chance to show it to you! Wait — you thought I lent you my grandparents’ expensive gift?”
“Talya! You know I trust you with my life, but my parents would freak if I lent you that! I hope that doesn’t insult you, but…”
“Chaya, I think that’s the nicest thing I ever heard! So, um, do you think we can go to Claire’s on Sunday? There’s a bracelet I need to replace.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr. Issue 681)
Oops! We could not locate your form.