She felt her anxiety level rising as she walked into the office. "Stand over in the corner!" she snapped at her young son, as they walked up to the counter. Instantly feeling guilty, it wasn't his fault that they were there. She had told him they were in a post office because she didn't want him reporting to anyone about this visit. He did as he was told but she kept her eye nervously on him, they weren't in the best part of town.
The office was bright and behind the thick glass wall, the staff were friendly."I want to pawn this locket and these earrings," she said in a low voice."Certainly, would you like them to be pawned together or separately?" the young foreign girl asked. She looked exotic probably from South Africa, guessing from her accent. The woman hesitated and the pretty girl continued, "If you pawn them separately, then you can collect them at different times but if you pawn them together you must come up with the full amount." The woman was grateful for that advice. Whatever about the earrings, she had to get the locket back, somehow.
The locket had been bought for her by her parents for her 21st birthday. Lockets were all the rage at that time but the young girl (as she was then) wanted something a little bit different. She didn't want a loveheart-shaped locket. She clapped her eyes on a rectangular book-shaped locket with beautiful engraving all around the edges. With her love of reading she thought it suited her perfectly. Then she had to choose a chain. Again she saw a chain that was slightly different, rounded links.It cost as much as the locket itself. But the girl had her heart set on the locket and chain. She knew her parents didn't have a lot of spare cash and were already throwing a party for her. However she reasoned with herself that since she got job a couple of years ago she never looked for a penny from them. The woman grimaced at this memory. The girl thinking little of taking money from her parents. She loved that locket though and wore it for years. In the past couple of years it had been replaced by a necklace from her husband but the locket had a special place in her heart.
She didn't know how thing's had come to this. Somehow she hadn't budgeted this month correctly and she didn't have enough money to cover her car payment. Her husband had enough worries at the moment and she didn't want to ask him for money, which would only be coming from the last of his savings. She had sold gold before but it didn't hold sentimental value, however this was the first time it ... hurt and caused her shame.
Two big rough-looking men came into the office. She completed her paperwork and nervously tried to hide where she hid the money in her bag in case they followed her. She called her son to her side as she did this. The men were trying to sell mobile phones without ID and were becoming agitated. She hurried out of the office and to the car as quickly as she could.
A couple of weeks later an unexpected letter arrived for her. She recognised the writing immediately. The woman and her friend had exchanged letters for years, before facebook and email took over. Inside was a simple card. A short personal message and a gift cheque for a supermarket chain for one hundred Euro. The woman was astonished as she had spoken to no-one about her money worries. Yet her friend, who lived at the other end of the country, had heard that the woman's husband was out of work. Her first reaction was to post it back, her pride kicked in. She rang her friend but couldn't get through so she sent a text. 'Thank you, but it's too much, can't accept :)' Later the friend replied, 'Don't even think about sending it back, it's your birthday present and Christmas present rolled into one.'
The following day the woman left her son with a friend. Saying, "She'd a little business to do" and thinking 'I'm not bringing him to that part of town again!' A few hours later she was wearing that locket and she hasn't taken it off since. The only indicator that she had let the locket go was a mark on the back where the pawn shop had tested the gold. That couldn't be erased.
P.S. This is dedicated to my 'busking friend.'