The Diamond Bracelet
Brenda poured herself a cup of coffee and asked, “How did you get that cheap son of a bitch to buy you a diamond bracelet for your anniversary?” She poured a generous dollop of cream and three spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee and stirred until her sister thought she would scrape the glaze off the inside of the coffee cup.
Miriam smirked and said, “I made him feel guilty.”
“He’s not having an affair, is he?”
“God, no. He’s too lazy to have an affair, but he has plenty to feel guilty about.”
“Well, for one thing, he promised me to give up smoking three years ago.”
“He didn’t give it up?
“He gave up smoking at home, but I can smell the smoke on him when he comes in. He knows I can’t abide alcohol, but every once in a while he comes home smelling like a brewery.”
“So how did you use that to make him feel guilty enough to buy you a diamond bracelet?
Miriam poured herself another cup of coffee. “You know those new gizmoes they have to control things in your house?”
“Like turn the light on and play music and stuff?” Brenda ran her fingers through her hair, which was blonde this month.
“I bought one last month. I knew he would object to me spending the money, so I hid it under the bed.”
“I learned that you could talk to it and have it say stuff back to you.”
“He is such a creature of habit. He takes a nap every afternoon at 3:00.”
“So what did you do?” Her voice was impatient to hear how her sister used the gadget.
“I fixed the gizmo–it’s called an Echo–to come on at 3:15 every afternoon and say, lowering her voice to a creepy waver, ‘I am the voice of your conscience.’
“He never mentioned hearing it, but I knew he did. I could tell that it shook him up,” Miriam laughed. “After about a week I told him I wanted a bracelet for our anniversary. Then I stopped ‘The Voice of his Conscience.’ A few days after that he came home with my anniversary present,” waving her wrist in front of Brenda again.
Two weeks later Miriam was at Brenda’s As Brenda poured the coffee, Miriam asked, “Where did you hide the macaroons?”
“In the bottom cabinet, behind the big stew pot.” The sisters loved macaroons, as did Brenda’s husband, Harold, but Harold was supposed to watch his sugar intake, and if he found the macaroons, he would eat the whole package.
“So, did you decide where you’re going on vacation next month?” Brenda asked, taking a delicate nibble out of her macaroon.
“We decided to go to North Carolina.”
“North Carolina? Whatever are you going to do there?
Miriam hesitated. “We’re going to watch the NASCAR races.”
“NASCAR! NASCAR? I thought you hated NASCAR stuff.”
“I do, but the reservations are all made. The money is spent. We can’t go anyplace else at this point.”
“You let him turn the tables on you, didn’t you? You let him make you feel guilty because he spent so much money on that bracelet.”
Miriam looked down. “Yes, I’m afraid I did.”
“I still don’t understand it,” Brenda said. How could he afford it? That bracelet must have cost thousands of dollars.”
Miriam shook her head. “That’s what I thought when I agreed to go to North Carolina with him. But yesterday the credit card bill came. The bracelet isn’t diamonds at all. It’s only rhinestone, and it cost $19.99.”
CARL PERRIN started writing when he was in high school. His short stories have appeared in The Mountain Laurel, Northern New England Review, Kennebec, Short-Story.Me, and CommuterLit among others. His book-length fiction includes Elmhurst Community Theatre, a novel, and RFD 1, Grangely, a collection of humorous short stories. He is the author of several textbooks, including Successful Resumes,and Get Your Point Across, a business writing text. The memoir of his teaching career Touching Eternity, was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award.