An Unwanted Gift

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

It's Marie's thirtieth birthday and things are not working out as she hoped.

An Unwanted Gift


Marie couldn’t help feeling resentment. It was her birthday, her day for celebrating, so how come she was waiting nervously for her mother-in-law to arrive. Her husband had already been out for several hours, picking her up. It would be at least another hour before he got back, but she’d better start getting ready. Her mother-in-law would be expecting her to look her best.


A soak in the bath, her hair dried. Make-up, but not too much as Judith had always been very out-spoken about those who’s make-up was on the heavy side. ‘Cheap and nasty looking’, was one of her milder comments. And Marie was very conscious of the fact that she was viewed as being a ‘cheap, money-grabbing bitch’. The two women barely tolerated each other and yet her thirtieth birthday was to be governed by that old.....dragon.


What to wear? Marie struggled with this decision. She wanted to be casual, comfortable; she wanted to be herself. Would it really be so bad of her to wear a t shirt and sweat pants. Well, she knew the answer to that one – yes.


Her birthday present from Judith had sort of set the tone for the whole celebration. It was a locket, jewelled and very delicate. The engraving on the outside was so meticulously detailed. Even before Ben had spoken, Marie knew that she did not want it, It was so not her!


“Oh, wow!” Ben had said, when he saw the gift his mother had sent for his wife. “And you’re always saying how Mum dislikes you. This used to be her mother’s, and is one of Mum’s most valuable pieces. Come on, put it on then.”


And she had put it on. It was a beautiful piece of jewellery, true, but it just wasn’t her. It didn’t go with her wardrobe, it did not go with her life-style, but to give voice to any of this would have been seen as selfish ingratitude. She held her tongue, made a gushingly over-the-top phone call of thanks, only to learn that Judith was coming over to spend that very night with them.


Typically inconsiderate, Marie had thought.


“That’s brilliant, Mum. I’ll pick you up.” The thing that had really depressed her was that Ben had genuinely sounded pleased.


“We’ll be back around four, okay love. And do make an effort.” Ben had been half way out of the door when he’d turned back and said, “Make sure you wear the jewellery, okay.”


Sadie, the Jack Russell was whining and barking downstairs. Marie could hear her scratching and scrabbling about in the kitchen. She’d have to make time to take her out before they got back too.


But what could she possibly wear to go with that locket. She didn’t really go for the smart look. Of course she could just wear the locket underneath something, or even worse, over the top. Oh, the look of disapproval that would get! Marie could picture it and it really was very tempting. She didn’t really want to spend her own birthday with both her husband and his mother sulking with her though, so she’d have to play along with their little show.


What the hell was she going to wear though? She rifled through her inadequate wardrobe, pulling out one thing, discarding it, trying another. The noises from the kitchen were getting more and more frantic. Was the dog trying to dig her way out under the door? “Sadie, stop it! What the hell is wrong with you?”


Okay, light grey shirt, top two buttons undone, just to show off the locket. Grey velvet pants. So, they were lounge pants – the material should make them acceptable. She slipped her feet into her Crocs – there was a limit to what she was prepared to give up -- then went to fasten the locket around her neck.


Where was the damn thing? She was sure she’d left it on top of her dresser. Fifteen minutes, that’s all she had left. Marie moved one thing, then another. The locket was not there. It wasn’t on the floor by the dresser either, so she hadn’t knocked it down.


Think! Marie scolded herself. She moved the discarded heap of clothes from the top of the bed – it wasn’t there. Nor was it on top of her locker.


The bathroom! She must have taken it with her in there. But there was no locket on the shelves, no locket by the sink or bath, no locket on the floor.


“Sadie, shut the hell up!” The dog was going crazy, whining and scraping. The dull headache that Marie had was now turning into a full-blown cripplingly bad one. She gritted her teeth, tried to shut out the sounds from the kitchen, and went back to searching.


Nowhere! That stupid piece of unwanted jewellery had vanished. The old bat had probably put a spell on it to make it disappear, just to show up her daughter-in-law. Think, Marie scolded herself. There was nowhere else upstairs for it to be.


Downstairs, Marie pulled the cushions off the sofa, the chairs. She looked on the floor, felt under the furniture. Nowhere.......


“Sadie, if you don’t knock it off you’ll be outside for the whole weekend. Okay, I’ll take you now, but quick. I’ve got to find that damn.......Oh, Sadie! You’re a genius!”


The locket lay right where the dog had been scratching. It must have fallen when Ben left and got pushed into the gap between the carpet and the door frame. Marie bent to pick it up. Maybe there were a few scratches from Sadie’s claws, but they wouldn’t notice – hopefully.


“Good girl, Sadie. You’ve saved my life.” Marie bent and lifted the Jack Russell up for a hug before letting her outside.


Just as she fastened the clasp around her neck, Marie heard the car pull up, the door open. Sadie trotted in eagerly, not wanting to miss anything. Taking a deep breath and fixing a smile on her face, Marie got ready to perform her part. She would be pleasant, she would be nice. She turned and walked into the hallway.


“Judith, How nice to see you. And thank you so much for the locket. It’s gorgeous!”

Submitted: September 08, 2016

© Copyright 2021 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Mike S.

Yep, I remember how hard it sometimes could be to make mother-in law happy--a fine tale, Hully!

Thu, September 8th, 2016 6:40pm


Thanks, Mike. I have to say this was in no way auto-biographical. It started from the idea of the dog finding something that was lost.

Thu, September 8th, 2016 11:44am

Lionel Walfish

Thu, September 8th, 2016 7:17pm

Lionel Walfish

Sorry about the duplication. Hit a wrong tab..

I love this, Hully. I can see this expanded into a one woman play, with other thoughts and situations.
Your 'dialogue' is so naturally excellent. Great read !

Thu, September 8th, 2016 7:21pm


Thanks a lot, Lionel. I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

Thu, September 8th, 2016 12:27pm

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