Pearls and Plastic Beads
March 2008

“Pearls and Plastic Beads,” New Era, Mar. 2008, 22–23

Pearls and Plastic Beads

I walked into the house, exhausted. It had been a long day, and I was starving. I sat at the table while my mom made dinner, telling her everything I had done that day. All of a sudden my little sister, Cherri, was at my side. She twisted her hands together nervously and didn’t quite look at me.

“What happened?” I asked, not feeling very sympathetic.

“You know your pearl necklace?” she replied in a small voice. “Well, I was playing with it, and it broke.”

A million thoughts raced through my head. How many times had I told her not to play in my room or with my things? The necklace was hardly important, but that was beside the point. She had ignored my warnings one too many times.

Somehow I managed to bite my tongue, and an exasperated sigh escaped my lips. “Come on, show me where it is,” I said.

She took my hand and led me to my room. Pearls littered the floor, which wasn’t exactly clean to begin with.

“What have I told you about playing in my room, Cherri?”

“Not to,” she mumbled.

“Okay, then, why did you?” I pressed.

She just shrugged her little shoulders and looked at the floor. “I’m really sorry,” she said.

“Help me clean them up, and don’t play in here again,” I said. She did so and left the room, and I put the incident behind me.

The next day, I came home to an ecstatic Cherri. She grabbed my hand, jumping up and down. “I have something for you!” she said. “Sit here on the couch and I’ll be right back.”

She raced downstairs and returned a few minutes later cradling something in her hands. “Here, I made it for you all by myself,” she said proudly. “Mom didn’t even help me at all!”

She held out her little arms so I could see what she had made. Laying in her hands was a scrap of frayed black ribbon strung with meticulously arranged yellow and white plastic beads.

“It’s a necklace!” she said, jumping up and down again. “I made it for you because I broke your other one. Do you like it?”

I smiled. The necklace was a bit tacky, and yet it was beautiful. “Yes, Cherri, I love it.” I put it on and wore it the rest of the day to show my appreciation. I was so glad that I hadn’t yelled at my sister in anger and made her feel like I didn’t love her.

I kept her little token of restitution in my drawer, a constant reminder that a pearl necklace could never be as special or beautiful as my frayed black ribbon with yellow and white plastic beads from a precious younger sister.

Photograph by Robert Casey