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The Bracelet by Samantha Memi.


I was walking along the street on my way to see a friend when I noticed something sparkling in the grass of the verge. I picked it up to take a closer look. A bracelet, which seemed to be gold, a pattern of entwining hands, encrusted with turquoise and what I thought might be rubies. Good, I thought, I’ll sell this. Just as I’d decided to be my usual dishonest self, a woman ran down the road towards me. She looked around frantically then turned to me, desperation in her face, and asked,

“Have you seen a bracelet?”

I gripped the bracelet tight in my fist, determined not to give it back.

I tried to say ‘no’, but the word stuck in my throat.

I felt the bracelet burn in my hand, and she glanced at my fist and back to my face. Her eyes narrowed. The bracelet wanted honesty.

“Yes,” and against my natural instinct I showed her what I had found.

Joy blew her panic away. “Oh my bracelet,” she exclaimed, and took it from me.

“It must be worth a lot,” I said, “it looks like gold.”

“It’s not the intrinsic value. It's sentimental. My husband bought it for me. When I saw it in a jewellers, I fell in love with it. It said buy me. I dragged my husband to the shop. When the manager took it from the window, he said, ‘this was my daughter’s. It was given her by the Caliph of Baghdad. She went to Egypt for a holiday but she was kidnapped by some kidnappers. There’s a lot of them in Cairo. As they were bundling her into a car they were seen by one of the Caliph’s servants who took a photograph and showed it to the Caliph who immediately fell in love with my daughter, Anna was her name – such a sweet little thing – and he instigated a search and found my daughter bound and gagged in a carpet warehouse near the port.

After she spent some time in the Caliph’s palace – and God only knows what happened to her there – she was always an adventurous girl, if you know what I mean – he gave her this bracelet, and said, ‘My mother gave this to me and she said, ‘One day you will be the Caliph of Baghdad, and you will need this bracelet because it will protect you, but only if you have pure thoughts. Be warned; if you think badly of anyone or allow anger or jealousy or bitterness into your heart, the bracelet will mirror your thoughts and fate will turn against you,’ and my daughter took the bracelet and the Caliph told her, ‘the bracelet brought me great fortune and my kingdom expanded, but one day I caught one of my wives with a courtier. Enraged I had her whipped then beheaded; her lover was drowned in pig’s urine. Two weeks later my kingdom collapsed when the revolutionaries took power and I was deposed and forced to seek sanctuary in Egypt.’

My daughter loved the bracelet but was wary of it, though she always had good luck – she was such a sweet girl – she married and had children – oh you’ve never seen such grandchildren as I have – but her husband left her and she wished him a nasty death. The very next day he was crushed by a machine at work. Shortly after that she developed awful headaches. She saw all kinds of specialists but no one knew what was wrong with her. Just before she died she gave me the bracelet and said, ‘Sell this to someone honest, or throw it away’.”

A breeze lifted paper from the street. The brakes of a bus screeched. The woman looked at me.

“And even though we knew its history I so loved the bracelet my husband bought it for me, and we’ve both had an idyllic life together. Without a trace of anger or suspicion or jealousy. But tell me, you wanted to keep the bracelet?”

“No no,” I lied.

She looked at me suspiciously.

“I think you did,”

Then she walked away without even a thank you, and I wished I’d kept it.

As she was crossing the road she turned to give me a look which said, I hate you.

At that moment she was hit by a car which scraped her body 30 yards along the tarmac.

I thought of rushing to her quickly and tugging the bracelet from her hand, but I realized I’d never had a pure thought in my life, what the hell would the bracelet do to me?



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