Expressive 1010 2nd Place
Life is interesting when given thought as to how and why its little curves come careening at you, and what else can be done except struggle through and learn from the experience? There I was, a young girl living in Boulder City—population twelve thousand—just outside Las Vegas, Nevada. My family being fairly well off, I had never gone without as a child. I never would have entertained the thought of me being spoiled, but others probably knew otherwise. If I “needed” something, I got it, and I assure you it didn’t take much persuasion. I had Daddy wrapped around my little finger. But Dads are a lot smarter than a teenager realizes, and I was about to figure that out.
I was about fourteen this Valentine’s Day, and Dad was out to buy Mother a necklace. He asked me to accompany him to the little jewelry shop on Main Street. He described what he was looking for to an overly-friendly man who introduced himself as Lance. In only a few minutes, Lance had pulled out a few different displays of necklaces. I pulled in closer to Dad to get a better look. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The gems sparkled from the lights up above. They were absolutely stunning. I took a quick look around the jewelry shop and couldn’t begin to imagine how much all these precious stones might cost.
“What do you think, Tiff?” Dad’s voice pulled me back to the necklace he was holding. It didn’t take more than a minute to know that was the one. The sapphire, Mom’s all-time favorite stone, also happened to be her birthstone. The rectangular faceted sapphire was delicately placed on a gold band with two smaller diamonds on each side. I knew she would love it!
We continued looking around at different cases, all full of dazzling necklaces, earrings, broaches, bracelets, and rings. One particular ring caught my attention. Placed on black velvet, a white opal stood out from all the others. The stone was beautiful—smooth and pear-shaped, surrounded by fifteen tiny rubies.
“Oh, Daddy,” I exclaimed, “Look at this one!” Lance hurried over and more than willingly placed it in front of us. I had never owned a ring like this before, and as I carefully slid it on my finger, I wanted it badly. The wheels in my head started spinning. My friends would be absolutely jealous! This wasn’t a want anymore; I needed this ring.
“I sure like this one, Daddy. Isn’t it beautiful?” I searched his face for some kind of hint. He didn’t say anything for a minute, but then a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Hope and excitement sparked. If I played this one right, he just might spoil me the way I want him to.
“Let’s go, Sweetheart.” Dad smiled at Lance. “We’ve been gone a little too long. We don’t want Mom getting suspicious.” The excitement vanished, and the hope plummeted. I handed the ring over, politely thanked Lance, and headed for the car. The whole way home I thought about Dad’s tiny smile as I played the sweet, innocent, desirous little girl. I couldn’t give up hope; just keep trying. And try I did! What would work better than sidling up to him when he got home from work, putting my arms around his neck, and giving him a kiss or two? Or being particularly cheerful and loving towards him?
On Valentine’s Day, Mom received her necklace, but all I got was the same old chocolate rose and a valentine. It seemed all my efforts were in vain; my plan was thwarted. After that, I’m sure Dad noticed the lack of attention he now received from me, but what else was a disappointed little girl to do? However, I didn’t know what Dad had up his sleeve.
Time passed, and Easter morning was here. As usual, my siblings and I were excited to find our Easter baskets filled with candy and a small gift. I opened the traditional card from Mom and Dad, popping a milk chocolate egg into my mouth as I read. It said the same things it did last year: “We love you and are so proud of the lovely young lady you have become. Keep working hard.” Next I picked up the small, neatly wrapped package, its size and shape rousing my curiosity. I tore the paper off and held a black velvet ring box. This can’t be what I think it is. Holding my breath, I slowly opened it. Inside was the beautiful opal and ruby ring I had so mischievously sought after. I took it out and slid it onto my right ring finger. All I could do was stare at it. I had only owned a few cheap cubic zirconia stones bought at a little pawn shop, but now there were sixteen real jewels sitting on my hand. I felt so grownup and important now that I had a glamorous ring. I looked at Dad and couldn’t help but smile. He smiled back.
“I love you,” Dad said.
“Thank you,” was all I could say.
My pride in my new ring grew as the weeks passed. Its beauty and brightness were lovely! One night, as I was getting ready for bed, I took my precious ring and set it next to me on the counter as I washed my face. Mom walked into the bathroom to put a stack of clean towels in the cupboard. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw my ring.
“Tiffany,” Mom looked at me with her all-knowing-mother look. “I don’t recommend leaving your ring there next to the sink. What would you do if it fell down the drain?”
“I dunno,” I tried to mumble as toothpaste foamed from my mouth.
“Don’t ever take your jewelry off in the bathroom or kitchen. You never know what could happen to it, and once something so valuable is gone, it’s pretty difficult to replace.” I smiled and nodded with my spoiled, teenage attitude. After spitting, I headed for bed.
The next morning, as I put the last blue pillow sham on my bed, placed my bear in the middle, and turned to my jewelry box, I was surprised to find my ring out of place. I tried to think where I would have put it the night before, but the more I thought, the more I started to worry. I looked until Mom called up the stairs for us to leave for school. Oh, well. I’ll look more when I get back. But my mind wouldn’t let me forget about it all day. I had to find that ring.
As soon as I got home, I headed up the stairs and started searching. I looked through my jewelry box one more time. Nothing. Under the edge of my bed. Nothing. I started panicking, and then Mom’s words from the night before seemed to hit me in the face. I ran to the bathroom. It wasn’t there! I felt sick to my stomach. What do I do? A ring as expensive as mine isn’t easily replaced! Mom was right! Ugh...I hate when she’s right. I didn’t know what to do. Maybe it’ll show up when I least expect it. I pushed it from my mind, trying not to think about it.
A few days passed, and my ring wasn’t showing up. I knew I couldn’t tell Mom. I couldn’t cave in and let her know she was right—again—and I definitely couldn’t tell Dad. After the trust, love, and faith he showed in giving me that beautiful ring, I just couldn’t tell him it was gone. I was afraid that with the ring gone, the trust and faith of my father would go as well. The guilt was almost overwhelming. I couldn’t face them!
One night, about four days after I realized my glamorous ring was missing, I was simply lying in bed, contemplating what I should do. The guilt was about to kill me, and I needed some answers. I purposely left my door ajar, and when I saw Mom’s shadow pass, I called to her. She came in and looked at me. I must have looked worried, because she sat on the edge of my bed and asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t take it any longer. The guilt had been dammed up inside, eating me away, and I no longer cared whether she was right or not. I spilled the whole thing, crying as I did so. When I was done, she simply touched my hair and looked at me very patiently.
“You have to tell him, honey.” She spoke truth, and I knew it. As much as I didn’t want to, I knew that is what I needed to do. I felt better after I had confessed to Mom, but the guilt hadn’t completely disappeared. It took another day before I found the humility to tell him.
Dad had just gotten home from work, all smelly and dirty from the job site. After a relaxing shower and hearty dinner, I hoped and prayed he would be in a pleasant mood. But then the opportunity came. Dad and Mom were sitting in the living room watching the news together. Mom looked at me as I walked in and smiled an encouraging smile. I sat down, waited until I had Dad’s attention, and jumped into it. I told him everything, just as I had Mom, and I cried even harder. I just knew he was going to be disappointed in me. When I finished, my head hung low, avoiding any eye contact, and I waited for a reply. But nothing came. I looked up after a long minute to see Dad’s eyes filled with love and affection.
“Tiffany,” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I just couldn’t, Dad. I didn’t want to disappoint you. I know how much that ring cost. I’m just a kid, but you still trusted me and let me have it. I didn’t know what you would think.”
Then, Dad reached into his pocket, fumbled for just a minute, and slowly pulled out my beautiful opal and ruby ring. He held it out to me, but I just sat there bewildered. I didn’t know if I was more confused or relieved at that point. I simply put my arms around Dad’s neck and cried. He had it the whole time.
“I’m sorry, Daddy.”
“Don’t cry, Tiff. You were simply careless when you left it on the bathroom counter, and your mother and I were waiting for you to tell us. But it’s all over now. Just know that I love you.”
So, Dad was smarter than I thought. I sure love being daddy’s little girl, and I don’t hesitate to admit that I have him wrapped around my little finger. I still have my exquisite ring. It’s safely in my jewelry box with my beautiful emerald, but the lesson I learned that night is worth more than both those rings and their precious gems. I love my dad, and I know he loves me. His love and trust will always be priceless.