“Do you know what you have here?” the jeweler cried.
Stacey didn’t know, but her heart pumped a little harder in sync with the enthusiasm of the lady before her. She shook her head: no.
“This is no fake! Where did you get this?”
Stacey had no desire whatsoever to discuss that at the moment. She struggled to come up with something halfway believable. ‘Why didn’t she have a story set up?’ she fumed at herself in the third person as she was wont to do, not entirely upset that she needed one after all. She had more or less figured the stone was worthless and only convinced herself to have it appraised to ease her mind against the possibility of a lifetime of regret had she never investigated the stone. The hot Miami sun shone through the windows of the corner jewelry store Stacey had decided to bring her mystery stone to, and she gazed at the palm fronds on the sidewalk just outside the window. “It was my Aunt’s” she settled on. “She willed it to me. I didn’t even know she owned any jewelry!”. She let out a little giggle, trying to distract the jeweler from her previous line of questioning. “And then boom – she wills me something… Well, what exactly is it worth?”
The jeweler eyed Stacey with a hint of incredulity, but only a hint. She decided to play along for now. “Do you know what this type of stone is called?”
“No, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It isn’t a diamond – that I’m sure of. I’ve never owned rubies or sapphires or emeralds or anything like that.” She giggled again coyly, wishing the jeweler had been a man, and more likely to be susceptible to her non-mineral charms.
“You really don’t know, do you?” She smiled sincerely. “You’re a very fortunate young lady Miss … What did you say your name was?”
“Ms. Florence, you’re a very fortunate young lady,” Mrs. Sykes repeated. “Very fortunate indeed, to have had such a generous Aunt who obviously favored you very kindly.”
“What type of stone is it?” Stacey intruded as smoothly as she could.
“I won’t bother telling you the name of it – I can guarantee with certainty you’ve never heard of it. Almost no one has. But I’ll show you what makes it so special, if you want to know.”
Now Stacey was genuinely intrigued – ‘why wouldn’t she want to know?’ She left aside her fortune planning for the moment and let her mind wonder in this new mysterious territory. ‘An unknown stone? Was this lady being serious with her? Or was she being taken for a most unpleasant ride?’ She hoped for the best and followed Mrs. Sykes as the woman led her into the back of the store. They proceeded through a curtained off area in the rear into a rather industrial looking area where Stacey figured stones were cut and polished and whatnot. At least that’s what it looked like to her. She followed along as her host motioned for her into what at first looked like a tiny, empty space. As Stacey stepped into the small space however, she noticed some buttons on the wall and realized it was an elevator. ‘Strange,’ she thought, recalling the building only had one floor. ‘Must go to the basement.’
As she expected by now, the elevator began to slowly descend. Mrs. Sykes was speaking about something not particularly relevant to the matter at hand, or at least Stacey hoped it wasn’t relevant as she couldn’t keep her mind clear. Her head grew foggy with wonders of fortunes and mystique. The elevator continued down for some time before Stacey thought to look at the buttons on the wall closely in an attempt to see which one had been selected. To her discomfort, there were only three buttons – 1, B, and a third button with no label. It was this nameless destination to which they were now heading. She started to ask where they were going when her voice caught in her throat and she found herself unable to speak. Mrs. Sykes had since abandoned her monologue and the two rode down in silence for what seemed to Stacey to be at least ten minutes. At last the elevator came to a steady. The door remained closed for what was to Stacey an uncomfortably long time, although in reality it was no more than two or three seconds. When the door at last removed itself from Stacey’s view, she wished it hadn’t. She started in a fit of abandon at the sight before her, then regained her wits and began to comprehend what her unsuspecting eyes had initially rejected.