The Necklace (short story)

 

“I… I… I’ve no longer got Madame Forestier’s necklace…” she cried out, a hand on her neck.

 

“What? Are you sure?” Loisel asked in panic, “Check your gown, Mathilde. You can’t have lost it.”

So Mathilde checked her gown and her coat but the necklace was nowhere to be found. Mathilde started crying.

 

“I’ve lost Jeanne’s necklace… What am I going to tell her?”

 

“How could you be so irresponsible with a fortune like that?” He said buttoning up his shirt again.

 

Mathilde said nothing, tears flowed down her cheeks.

 

“Madame Forestier should never have lent you the necklace. It was clearly out of our status.” Loisel muttered in anger.

 

He wore his shoes and told her to quickly dress so they could go outside and search for the necklace. Mathilde, with a broken heart took off her fancy ball gown and put on a rather simple one. They went outside in silence. The night was dark and the winds calm. It was as if Mother Nature knew of their mishaps and was gloating at them. The moon shone with pride just like the distant diamond sky. Mathilde looked up and started to weep again.

 

“Why, oh, why is this life so cruel?” she stuttered brokenly.

 

“Mathilde, stop crying and start searching the grounds with me.” Loisel handed her a flashlight.

 

They separated for a while, frantically running here and there in search of the necklace. Loisel kept swearing under his breath. He hoped they’d find the necklace. If not… He couldn’t even think about the other. They were not rich; they barely had money for their necessities. He knew he could not give his wife the life she wanted, but he would fly over moon just to make her happy. His love was not enough for her, he thought with a sad smile.

 

Loisel and Mathilde met after an hour, both had found nothing. Mathilde’s eyes were puffy and her hair charged with electricity. Loisel felt remorse for his wife. She was young and inexperienced. She was utterly vain and God was she right. She was the most beautiful person he had ever laid eyes upon. And to think, he, the penniless beggar had her for his wife. He thought about the mess she had put them in. It was a big mess and he was in it with her whether he liked it or not.

 

“Loisel, look!” Mathilde cried out, bringing Loisel to reality, “That’s the man who drove us home.”

 

Sure enough, the cab that had brought them home was parked on the street. The driver was dozing off on a bench beside it. Loisel and Mathilde ran across the road.

 

“Sir… Sir… Please wake up!” Mathilde started shaking his shoulders. The man woke up with a start.

 

“What? What?” He said in a startled tone.

 

Mathilde stepped behind allowing the man to get up and stretch himself.

 

“This better be important, woman.” He rubbed his eyes with his palms.

 

“I am sorry, Sir. But my wife has lost her necklace in your cab, I think.” Loisel said in a polite tone, “Would you be so kind and let us check?”

 

The cab driver’s ears perked up.

 

“Necklace, eh?” he asked, “And what kind would it be?”

 

Loisel and Mathilde exchanged worried glances. What if this man had kept the necklace? If so, how will they ever recover it from him?

 

“It was a diamond necklace, Sir.’ Loisel whispered brokenly.

 

The man’s eyes grew wide.

 

“Oh, so ‘tis diamonds!” He nearly yelled in excitement.

 

“Sir, it belonged to my friend. I borrowed it to wear at the ball.” Mathilde pleaded, “Please let us look in your cab…”

 

The man nodded and Loisel searched under the seats and the mats, inside and outside- everywhere. The necklace was nowhere to be found. His shoulders slumped and he shook his head at his wife. Mathilde had hope in her eyes and he saw it vanish behind a pool of tears. It broke his heart to see her sad. Loisel put an arm around his wife’s shoulders and they walked towards their small, shabby home.

 

Loisel held his wife as she cried all through the night. At dawn, she finally went to sleep.

 

Loisel had not slept. He couldn’t stop thinking about the mess they were in and how he would get out of it. He quietly slipped out of bed, dressed and went out to talk to his friends about a loan.

 

Mathilde woke up to find her husband gone. Her head hurt from all the crying she had done last night. Her eyes were red and swollen. She thought about her poor husband who was head over heels for her. He was so kind and thoughtful. When she didn’t have a ball gown, he gave up his savings for her. She thought and her heart began to beat. He surely was the perfect husband. And look, just how she repaid him for all that he’s done for her. She was moody and vain and let her love for wealth and fortunes ruin her life. His love should be all for her. How many times had she heard him say that? Poor Loisel, he had gone to the ends of the earth to satisfy her. But she was never grateful for that.

 

In the meantime, Loisel sat at the taxi stand. He had paid a visit to the jewelry store in order to search the necklace. He had found one identical to it but it cost him a fortune. He did not have that kind of wealth. He was just a clerk, after all. None of his friends were willing to loan him that great a sum. If Madame Forestier found out about her necklace, she would send them to jail. Her husband was a powerful man in the society. He owned the biggest casino in town. If they find out, they would take everything from Loisel and Mathilde. Loisel sat there with a straight face but deep inside, his heart was tearing up.

 

He got up from the bench and started walking. Maybe if he sold something like a family heirloom but what does he own that will get him money worth a diamond necklace? He thought painstakingly about the only precious thing that held him to his past: his Grandfather’s oil paintings. Loisel’s Grandfather was an artist who was famous world-wide for his elaborate-styled paintings and his work for influential people like the Queen of France at that time. He had left all of his art pieces to Loisel’s name when he died. Loisel kept his Grandfather’s famous paintings dear to his heart and he hoped to set up an art Museum one day in honor of his Grandfather.

 

Loisel was 10 when his parents were killed in a robbery. His Grandfather was the only family he had. It pained him to think about selling his most prized possessions. He was doing it just for Mathilde, the love of his life. With a mighty heart, he went to the bank where he had kept his Grandfather’s paintings. He withdrew all 25 of his Grandfather’s paintings. People gasped, and stood in awe. Andre Emanuel D’Artagnan was famous even after his death. He loaded the paintings in a cab and was surprised to see the same driver from the previous night. Loisel told the man his story, how he was selling his Grandfather’s paintings in order to buy the necklace identical to the one they lost. The cab driver dropped Loisel at the Auction Centre and drove off.

 

Mathilde, meanwhile, busied herself with cleaning. She was doing the laundry when she heard someone knocking at the door. She dried her hands on a towel before opening the door. The cab driver stood there with his cap clutched in his hands.

 

“Sir- whatever is the matter?” Mathilde asked, “Is my husband all right?”

 

“ ‘Tis not about your husband, Madame.” The cab driver said stepping inside.

 

Mathilde stood watching him, her hand still on the door.

 

“I’m sorry!” the cab driver exclaimed, “I took the necklace. I am very sorry! Please don’t report me to the Police…”

 

Saying this, the man started to wail. Mathilde could not move. She wanted to scream at him but then she sympathized with him. Maybe he had little ones at home he could not feed? What if he was in dire need of cash? The man reached into his undercoat pocket and pulled out the diamond necklace, all in one piece. Mathilde took the necklace from his trembling hands and held the cold, hard piece of jewelry. This was the reason of her tears and poor Loisel’s discomfort. The diamonds were merely rocks, cold and hard. Whereas flowers as her husband had suggested her were soft, fresh and lively and smelled sweet. She stared at the lifeless, yet gleaming necklace in her hand and finally understood the meaning of life.

 

She had this cold, hard rock in one hand, the same that gave her sadness. On the other, she had her heart; soft, caring and kind. The diamond was hard and heavy on her neck but love was everything that mattered to her heart. She had to tell her husband, but wherever was he? The driver told her about Loisel’s plans and where he had dropped him.

 

Loisel’s Grandpa’s paintings! She thought. Those were dearest to his heart. He could never part with them. Unless… he was doing it for her, to get her out of the mess she put them in the first place..

 

“Thank you, sir, for seeing sense.” She hugged the cab driver and kissed his cheeks, “You showed me some sense too. I’ve got to stop Loisel…”

 

Mathilde quickly put the diamond necklace into its case and rushed out of her apartment, the cab driver on her side. He drove Mathilde to the Auction centre. She hurried into the building screaming Loisel’s name. She found him signing some papers at the front desk.

 

“Loisel!” She screamed, “Darling, stop!”

 

Loisel looked at her in astonishment. Mathilde’s hair was open, her cheeks flushed and she was breathless.

 

“What is the matter, Mathilde? Is something wrong?” Loisel asked in an alarmed tone.

 

Mathilde started crying and showed him the necklace. Loisel’s eyes grew wide as he realized what this meant. He pulled his wife for a hug and for the first time, tears flowed down his cheeks. He silently thanked God for helping them. They returned the necklace to its rightful owner that day. Mathilde kept apologizing for everything they went through for she was the only one to blame. Loisel dismissed her apologies and told her he’d fly up to the moon and get her stars if she’d want. Mathilde replied that all she needed was him and his love. Loisel responded with a kiss.

 

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