When Kim's mother gave her the necklace, she practically made her swear on the Bible that she would be careful with it. That happened the day Kim started high school, and for the rest of the year Kim wore it every day (except when she played basketball of course.). Kim had always been good in school, but as a freshman she started Algebra, and she was having problems with it. Whenever she got stuck on a tricky problem, she'd finger the gold medal hanging from the chain on the necklace, and almost every time she'd figure out what she'd done wrong. If she hadn't known better she might have thought it was magic.
Then one day Kim's friends called her to ask if she'd come down to the park for a pickup basketball game. She got her older sister to drive her down and got to the courts as her friends were choosing up teams. At the last second, she remembered her necklace, took it off, and set it on the ground behind the court. Then she ran to join her friends.
When the game was over, the necklace was gone.
* * * * *
"Landy, we're home!" yelled Chelsea as she banged in the door.
Lander stared at his little sister. "Where did you get that?"
"What? My necklace? I found it!" Chelsea said defiantly, or at least as defiant as a six-year-old can be to her older brother.
"Mom!" yelled Lander, who didn't believe his little sister.
"Don't shout," said their mother, coming in from behind Chelsea. "Yes, she found it. On the ground, right by the path in the park. I let her keep it; it's probably been there for years."
"It's pretty," Chelsea said, looking at the necklace.
Her mother bent down and held out the medal on the chain. "It is. And do you know what it says?"
"What's it say?" Chelsea asked. And when her mother told her, Lander snorted, but Chelsea smiled.
* * * * *
"Moving?! Are you kidding me?" Chelsea screamed. "But how could you? We start fifth grade next year! Oldest in the school."
"I know, I know. Don't blame me. Blame my dad. Or his company. Or, I don't know, the president or something. But don't blame me!" Jade shoved some hair out of her face, afraid that any minute she'd burst into tears.
"Holy cow… when do you leave?" Chelsea asked.
"In a week. We only just found out."
"Whoa..." Chelsea was totally silent. The bell rang for the end of recess, and Jade started to get up when Chelsea said, "Wait!" She reached up and fumbled with the clasp on her necklace. "I know you're not going for a week, but… here, take it." She lowered the chain into Jade's hand. Jade just looked at it, then she said slowly, "I can't take this. Didn't your mom give it to you or something?"
"Nope. I just found it in the park one day, like, 5 years ago. Come on, take it. It's your going away present."
"Okay, thanks." Jade smiled. Then she looked more closely at the medal on it. "I can't read this… what's it say?"
Chelsea told her, and Jade grinned. "It's perfect."
* * * * *
"So, while I'm in England for 2 weeks, what are you doing this summer?" said Jade.
Bryana shifted in the window seat. "I'm going to my cousin's. They live in Maryland, and we're probably going to the beach or something. It should be pretty fun."
"Awesome," said Jade. Then she added, "Hey, you know, I once read a book where these girls traded pinky rings whenever they split up for vacation or something…"
"Oh, you want to trade necklaces? Sure!" Bryana unfastened the clasp of the locket she wore. "Although I doubt you want to look at my parents' pictures if you get homesick!"
Jade giggled. "You never know. I spend so much time at your house, they might start to miss me!" She took off her own necklace. "Be careful, 'kay? It was a present from my best friend in Miami."
"Sure, no problem." Bryana held her hair back as Jade fastened the necklace on her.
"Looks good," Jade said, studying her. "And this is what I hope you do on vacation." She read the words off the medal, and Bryana nodded and smiled.
* * * * *
"Is it my turn yet?" Eden pretended to be annoyed, but she wasn't. After all, letting the youngest open a present first was tradition, and after that it always went in age order. Eden just had the bad luck of being the oldest, in 8th grade this year.
"Yeah, go ahead." Chris could afford to be generous, since he was always second.
"Open mine! Open mine!" Jessy yelled. The four year old picked up a gold box, the kind jewelry always comes in, and carried it over to her older sister. Jessy was famous for collecting those boxes, so Eden didn't really expect anything fancy.
She was wrong. She opened the box to see a pretty gold chain with a small medallion on it. "Oh… nice!" she said. "Where'd you get this?"
"Like it?" Jessy said. She didn't tell her sister that she'd just found it in the guest bedroom last summer… a week after their cousin Bryana went back home. She sat silently while her big sister fastened it on and exclaimed about the saying on the medal.
She only hoped Bryana didn't miss it.
* * * * *
"It's gone!" yelled Eden, staring down at where the necklace had been five minutes ago.
"What's gone?" Cara stared at her best friend. "What'd you lose?"
"My necklace! Jessy gave it to me before I started high school!"
"That's three years!" Cara immediately took charge. "Don't worry. We'll find it. You check lost and found, I'll tell the girls to get looking."
Eden smiled, even though she doubted she'd find it…
Across town, in Silver Wings Nursing Home, one of the nurses was opening a box that had been sent from one of the schools. She handed out care packages to the people sitting around. Eleanor, who was last on the list, was sure she already knew exactly what would be in hers, after watching her friends open theirs. She didn't expect to open the bag and see an expensive looking necklace right on top.
"This is beautiful. Oh, I can't read this." Eleanor squinted at the writing engraved in the medal, then called the nurse over. The nurse's quick fingers unknotted the tangles in the necklace as she commented on how pretty it was, and when she read the words to Eleanor, both of them smiled.
* * * * *
Sam was getting extremely bored. His father kept telling his memories of all the heirlooms his grandmother had left to them, his mom kept saying how pretty they were, and even his sister was interested, since most of the jewelry went to her. Sam would rather sit in his room and think about his grandma alone- after her funeral in Maryland last week he was a little sick of hearing everyone else's memories.
Suddenly his mom's voice broke into his thoughts. "Oh, good. Here's something for Sam." She held out an old-looking piece of gold jewelry. Sam almost made a face at it, until he saw the note attached to the necklace. "Sam," he read. "Eleanor wanted you to have this. She said you might have someone special to give it to." Suddenly he grinned. One of the nurses must have written it for his grandmother. Grandma had known exactly who he'd give it to.
The next day, walking in the park with Loren, he told her to turn around and put the necklace on her. She smiled at her boyfriend and they kept walking- neither of them noticing the clasp on the necklace was loose…
* * * * *
Shannon burst in the door. "Mom! Mom! Can you help me fix this? I found it and I tried to put it on, but it's broken… Mom, what's wrong? What'd I say?" she said the last part more to herself as her mother silently reached for the phone, dialed a number, and after a minute said, "Mom? Guess what. You will never guess what Shannon found in the park today." There was a pause, and then Shannon's mom continued. "The necklace. The one you gave me for my birthday when I turned 14…"
"Oh, Kim…" her mother trailed off. "In the park. I don't believe that. It must have been there since you lost it in high school."
"Yeah… I guess Shannon should get it now." Kim covered the phone for a minute and said to her daughter. "Shan, give me a minute and we'll look up a jeweler who can fix that." Pausing, she broke into a smile. "But you have to promise me you'll be very careful with it!"
* * * * *
Kim got the necklace fixed, and Shannon wore it every day of high school and to college when she started this year. She and her mother still don't know that it went to so many different places or that so many people wore it. Even though it's old and a little worn, you can still read the words engraved in the medallion on the gold chain:
Live, Laugh, Love