Natasha Bess rolled the opalescent orb in her fingers. It was getting more difficult to tell the difference, she thought. Rheumy cataract-ridden eyes and a numbing in her fingers left Natasha in doubt about what she was holding.
Carefully, forcing her shakes to still, if only briefly she dug a nail into the surface. It made no dent.
Satisfied she kissed the stone and put it in the right pocket before picking up the next one.
When she’d run from the Germans in 1938, her mother had sowed fifty pearls into her petticoat. After a lifetime eking out their value Natasha had three left. So many stories behind each one: buying off the border guard, acquiring papers, then a second set; food, her passage; changing her appearance oh so many times; setting up Abe in business and buying off that gangster – and losing Abe in the process; schooling John and Ruth and burying them both within two years of each other.
She battered away a tear and scratched the next ball. It gave a little and she slipped it into the left pocket. Mendelssohn may be a clever man, he may already have taken her freedom and her dignity but he’d yet to find her remaining pearls.
They all knew she was dying; they were generous with their painkillers but she’d not fought tooth and nail to do things her way only for this petty fascist of a director to kill her off and keep her pearls.
She kept counting. Yes, she had enough pills. With a deliberation that characterised her life, she swallowed each gem and pill in turn. There would be an autopsy, the pearls would be found and they’d go as her will required, to help others escape want and cruelty, not to line his pocket.
This week’s prompt words from Microcosms are: Emigre; therapy centre; drama