Their Mother’s Necklace

Pernilla sits in her favourite armchair watching the sunset while drinking a cup of coffee – Löfberg’s Lila, her standard brew. Summer in Sweden is the best day of the year. Were she not so tired, she would probably have gone out. Considering the circumstances, this would have to do. Her window was open and a mild breeze blew in, rustling a few casually places papers on her table.

Her mobile telephone sounded. “Oh, who is it now” she mumbles looking over to see who had the nerve to disturb her peace. It was her brother, Lasse. “Hello Lars” she says, using the formal version of his name. “Hello Pernilla. You won’t believe what I’ve found”. He answers. “Don’t tell me you’ve found the formula for converting lead to gold” she says facetiously.  Pernilla and Lasse had always had an understanding, an understanding stemming from their slightly skewed sense of humour. “I wish! That way I could finally retire. Oh, never mind, skatteverket would take their share of that”! Pernilla chuckled at the mention of the Swedish tax office, skatteverket, strangely one of Sweden’s most trusted agencies. “Remember mum’s old desk”?

Pernilla paused for a second before asking “Which one”? “The one she moved into her cabin a few years before she died”, Lasse responded. “Oh yes, that one. We never were able to open up all the compartments, were we”? She responded. “I found the key. Pernilla, can you make it tomorrow? There was something in there that I think you should have”. “Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow for lunch. Is that okay”? “Of course, I’ll tell Lotten that you will come”. “Please give your wife my regards and we’ll see each other tomorrow, then”.

After hanging up, Pernilla stood up and walked to her window looking out at over the Esplanade and the boats crossing the narrow strait. She picked up her mobile and telephoned Jiro. “Hey Jiro, it’s me. I need to go to Västra Torup tomorrow, but I should be back before too late”. “Okay, telephone me again when you leave so I can have supper ready for you”. “So kind” Pernilla thought as she hung up. Recently, Jiro had started cooking Japanese meals for her each weekend.

Pernilla was in a cheerful mood the next morning. The summer had been extended to two days this year. After showering and combing her shoulder-length blonde hair, she climbed into her white Volvo V40, turned on the radio and left for the farm where she grew up with brothers Lars and Olle.

As she drove out of Helsingborg, she rolled down her window and got caught up in the moment – one of those glorious, unforgettable moments that life gives us sometimes. The type of moment when we’re caught up in unbridled joy for no reason. She turned up the radio again and sand along with the song.

Kommer du tillbaka, kommer du tillbaka, kommer du tillbaka? För då minns jag vår tid i vinden Kommer du tillbaka, kommer du tillbaka, kommer du tillbaka?

Will you come back, will you be back, will you come back? Because then I can remember our time in the wind. Are you coming back, will you come back, will you come back?

When she arrived her brother’s two dogs – a golden retriever-based mongrel and something that might have, at one point, had an Alsatian sire ran around and barked at her car enthusiastically. “Get away from her” Lasse called out to the two canine miscreants. Pernilla called out over the din “Hello Lasse”. She shook her brother’s hand at the farmhouse’s door. “Hello Pernilla” Lotten said, getting up from the kitchen table. Lotten went to the old cupboard to get a cup for her sister-in-law.

Pernilla, Lotten and Lasse sat around the old kitchen table where Pernilla and Lasse ate together growing up. It was an early-20th century piece inherited from her grandfather who made it in his small shop. As the two women were drinking coffee, Lasse turned to Pernilla and asked “Do you remember that ugly IKEA vase mum kept as a joke”? “Oh god, that thing”? Pernilla laughed. “It’s gone now, in any case. I forgot to put the book-ends back in their proper places and managed to knock over a few books – and the vase with them”. “It’s no great loss”, Lotten said. “I found two keys in it, they looked like they could fit mum’s desk. After cleaning up the pieces, I went out to see if they worked. They did”.

Lasse stood up and walked to the sitting room where he picked up a small box. Returning to the kitchen, he handed it to Pernilla saying “This should be yours”. Pernilla thanked him as she took it and opened it. “This… This is mum’s pearl necklace”. The image of her mother as a young woman flashed in her mind. “She always looked so elegant when she wore this” Pernilla said when the shock had passed. “Yes. She always loved that necklace. Remember how she told us that she had to save up for a year to buy it”? It was their frugal mother’s one great frivolous purchase.


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