Author's note: I got the idea of a controlling mother from the movie Titanic. I also love the idea of historical... Show full author's note »
Collar of JewelsMy mother brushed into the room and disturbed my thoughts the way she always did: chin held high, cold blue eyes looking only at me, never at my beloved maids. She was wearing her favorite dress: a black full gown with a white trim of flowers that revealed none of her skin but her hands and throat. Around her throat she wore a diamond necklace that Father had given her when they had gotten married. She had her blond hair up off her neck and wrapped into a bun that pulled her face back a bit and made her look like a bird. She looked up and down me, as if evaluating me.
“Leave us,” she snapped at Bonnie and Allona. They both stood quickly, like startled rabbits. They curtsied briskly and walked from the room as fast as they could without really running. Lucky them, I thought bitterly. I don’t have the opportunity to get away from my mother so quickly.
I turned quickly to my mother and put a smile on my face as she turned to me. Even with the servants gone, she looked at me like I was something that had to be groomed and controlled. She didn’t look upon me with love anymore.
“Turn around,” she told me. I did as she asked while she went to my desk. She opened a drawer and sifted through it to find the perfect jewelry. I stifled a sigh; I really hated putting on jewelry. It was heavy and unnecessary.
She pulled out a pair of earrings she knew I despised. They were gold, big and heavy and pulled on my earlobes all through the night.
“Don’t you make that face, Anne,” she snapped at me. “I know you say these earrings hurt, but beauty is pain. William never used to complain when I would get him ready for important dinners like this!”
“William was a boy who didn’t have to wear this damned corset nor irritating earrings,” I muttered under my breath. Saying that out loud would have pushed my mother’s patience too far; her eye was already twitching slightly.
“Mother, what are you nervous about?” I asked her in my most innocent voice.
She looked at me in surprise. She never seemed to understand that I could always tell when something was bothering her.
“Nothing, dear!” she said quickly. “Nothing at all.”
“Mother…” I said, making my voice stronger.
“Alright, yes, I am a little nervous,” she admitted. “You have never been one to follow rules very well. You may not like wearing dresses and jewelry, but if you don’t marry Ralph, we will not be able to live anymore. Do you want to sell everything we have until we have nothing, and then still not have enough money to pay our debts? With Ralph in the picture—“
“Yes, yes we will survive and be able to live in luxury for the rest of our lives. But Mother,” I said, my voice slipping to a plea, “I don’t want to get married to this man. I don’t know him, I don’t want to get married so young, I don’t care what most people think! I don’t believe getting married at seventeen is a good idea.”
Mary Shakespeare, who I have never seen leak a drop of water out of her eyes before, looked like she might cry. I was so startled, I lost my side of the argument for a moment. She composed her face back into an emotionless mask again.
“I’m sorry, dear,” she said. “I know this is not the life you want, but we have no choice, and you know that! Now please put these on and get ready to leave.”
I didn’t know if I could go through with it. This situation was too great a weight for me and I felt like my knees were buckling under it. But I knew I had to try.
“Yes, Mother,” I said back to her. “I’ll be on my best behavior.”
“There’s a good girl,” she said briskly. She looked at herself in the mirror to make sure her make-up did not smudge, and then walked to the door. I went to my desk to grab my favorite necklace that William had given me a month before he died. It was a very simple necklace, just a long, gold chain, but I loved it because he gave it to me and because it didn’t wrap around my throat like my other necklaces; those made me feel like I had a collar on.