Betsy is prettier than me, funnier than me. Some people say she’s cleverer than me but that’s not true.
Betsy has a Soda Stream and a Girl’s World and an electric keyboard. We have cases filled with books in alphabetical order and studies with lockable doors and a piano with a thick layer of dust.
Today, Betsy is fretting because she’s lost something. I offer to help her find it. The thing in question is a string of amber beads. Betsy borrowed the beads from her mother’s jewellery case and her mother is quite beside herself. They had belonged to Betsy’s Grandmère, the one who passed not so long ago.
‘You remember the ones? They were like leaves on the turn, her autumn beads.’ Betsy’s mother looks at us meaningfully.
I shift in my seat.
‘Grandmère was one-of-a-kind,’ she says, dabbing at the base of her nose with a tissue. I wonder at that: a mother who cries in the open. It’s a curious sight. Lately, Betsy’s mum is looking less than her best. The word my mother would use is drawn. As if someone has come along and rubbed out all the good bits, reimagined her with the angles all wrong.
Betsy says we should go upstairs while her mum calms down. ‘If I could find that necklace,’ she mutters, biting a chunk out of her lip.
‘Maybe it got hoovered up,’ I offer.
Truth is, yesterday I found the beads and shoved them inside my sock. I can’t say why I did it. Curiosity, perhaps.
‘Are these for me?’ my mother asked, on finding the beads. And when she wore them, her eyes sort of glistened in a way I’d never seen.
Betsy and I continue our search. ‘She will get over it, some day,’ I say.
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