We walked in the store. The distinct ding of the little bell pierced the silence that seemed older than the antiques sitting there. Her eager eyes were a stark contrast to the natural, burnished finish on the artifacts on display. I gazed lovingly at my dear, dear friend as she ran towards something on the shelf at the far end of the store. Moving towards her, I saw that it was an ornately carved comb that caught her fancy. Encrusted with jewels, the adornment shone with the brilliance of the sea, radiance of fields and brightness of the sun. The soft, cascading arrangement of mother of pearl carnations gave it an ethereal feel. For a moment, just a moment I found myself resenting the exclusivity of the piece. Then I realized my friend was a priceless gem that no money in the world could procure.
She turned to the old, withered man who possibly owned the store. A little upward shrug of her eyebrows was all she could manage to ask for its price. She was entranced by the bejewelled beauty in her palm, at a loss for words. In a frail voice the man who looked as old as the precious ware that he traded, quoted his price. She hesitated a little. I could see her struggle. Then a different emotion far too close to determination took over her features. She moved towards the gent and made the purchase. With shaking hands she gesticulated to fix the bauble in her hair. Hair that was once a beautiful, bountiful mass of auburn but was now wasted, withered and almost devoid of life. I did her bidding; she smiled at her reflection in the mirror. Then her slightly pale face turned to see mine and out came these words, “This is my gift to you. Something to remember me by.”