The Lucky Charm
“Did you want them?” the woman asked again. Jackie had lost herself, forgotten about the price of the earrings as something in her mind seemed to pull her away. It wasn’t the earrings that had distracted her, but something else entirely. The people continued to shuffle past them as the stall holder eyed Jackie curiously. “Ma’am? Are you OK?” The market’s crowd didn’t pay the pair the slightest attention, continuing its usual morning bustle around them.
“Yes, I’m sorry,” Jackie finally said, remembering what had taken her away. “May I ask you a question?”
The woman seemed to frown at her, aware of other customers trying to get her attention. Saturday mornings were the busiest, the small Ballarat market the highlight for many of the traders.
“Sure,” she said, lowering her hand with the earrings a little. Beside them, a man gave up, dropping a ring back on its display and disappearing back into the crowd. Feeling guilt, Jackie picked the ring up and handed it to the woman.
“I’ll take that as well. I was wondering about your necklace?” Jackie pointed at the unusual pendant, suspended fro the woman’s neck by a black chord.
“That will $45,” she replied, bagging the items into a small paper bag. “It was a gift from my mother, back when I was very little.”
“It’s very beautiful,” Jackie said as she handed over a fifty. The woman forced a smile as she took it and slid the note into her money belt. “Please, keep the change. I was wondering. Would you consider selling it?”
The woman smiled, but the head-shake was instant. Jackie knew that there was more behind the necklace than just a simple gift.
“My mother gave me this just before she died. It means a lot. It’s all we were given.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“None taken.” The woman offered Jackie a final smile before turning her attention to another person before her. Jackie took a final look at the necklace, positive it was what she expected and left the stall.
She left the market with the paper bag in hand. But her mind continued to think about the woman’s necklace as the crowds around her faded out. It was unique, one of a kind, of that she was positive. Positive, because she’d seen one before.
The pendant was a section of a charm bracelet, holding just 2 simple charms. The letters L and Y , each made from rose gold, had hung from the bracelet’s strands. To a normal person, it may have seemed to be nothing more than a small chain with a couple of charms. But Jackie knew that it had been part of something more. Because she had seen another section many times before.
Jackie had joined Qantas as a stewardess back in late 2006. Before that she had been a counsellor, but it was the lure of flying to both local and overseas destinations on a regular basis that first drew her in. She took to the skies like a bird, loving her role from the start. By 2010 she’d met Tom and the pair married a couple of years later. But it was her sister-in-law she now thought of.
Tammie had married Tom’s brother a couple of years after Jackie and Tom. She’d arrived in the country from Fiji when she was 4, shortly after her mother had died from breast cancer. She’d been brought to Australia by an auntie, carrying a single suitcase and a final gift from her mum, a section of bracelet. But her piece, also worn as a pendant , held 2 different letters, M and I. Jackie had asked about the pendant several times, intrigued by the sentiment.
But Tammie’s aunt hadn’t been the caring kind and eventually ended up in foster care. Several years passed and she eventually found a forever-home with a loving couple. Her only memory from her mum was the section of bracelet.
Now walking away from the stall, Jackie began to wonder whether the bracelets were linked. They looked too similar not to be and she knew it was worth the chance. Without hesitation, Jackie turned back, the hope rising within her with each step.
The woman was sorting through some of her stock as Jackie returned. She offered her a smile as she rose.
“Back for more?” the woman asked.
“I’m sorry. I need to ask you something. When you said ‘it’s all we were given’, did you mean your siblings?” The woman tilted her head a little, surprised by the question.
“Yes, as a matter of fact. My mother had a bracelet which she split into 3, one piece for each of us. We didn’t have much. Why?”
“Because I know someone who has a piece of that same bracelet.”
The woman’s face tensed as she froze. Jackie could see the emotion building as she dropped her hands to the counter.
“Yes, my sister-in-law. She has the same, only her letters are M and I.” The woman’s eyes began to fill as a single tear trickled down her cheek.
“You know my sister?”
Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.