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by Ruth Hymel

It was a Spring day in Evening Shire. Fine and dry with scattered clouds across a bright blue sky. The air was cool, and smelled of growing things. Jayne poked her head out the shop door: across the lane Betsy, the herbalist, was partially hidden behind a hawthorn bush humming to herself; lace curtains fluttered out the front windows of Odds and Bobbs; and looking down the way, Evening Shire’s window boxes were such a riot of color, each seemed to be in competition with the next for loudest trumpeter of Spring. Primroses, cowslips, and yellow rock roses spilled from shop windows into the lane. And every tree bore the bright green of new birth. 

Pulling a chunky red jumper over her head, Jayne called out a muffled, “I won’t be gone a moment!” towards the back of the shop, and headed up the Canterbury road. Peter’s reply, “Where are you going, woman?” was lost to her. 

Over the winter, Jayne and Peter traveled to a little town in Northern Italy. A friend had informed Peter of a very special shop tucked away in a narrow cobbled alley. The shop’s jewelry was pre-war and unlike any found in Britain. Stepping down into the narrow room, Peter and Jayne experienced a feeling akin to time travel. They made only one purchase that day: a delicate necklace of yellow gold and coral from 1906. 

Jayne waited all winter to put the necklace on display. It lay by the front window now, nestled on creamy white satin, but looked cold and forlorn. The necklace needed something. Entering the woods, a blanket of bluebells spread out before her feet, crisscrossed by bands of sunlight. Their blue tops did indeed shake like bells atop bright green stalks, kissed by Spring breezes. Tenderly, she cut the fresh shoots, gathered them in her arms, and turned her face toward home. 

Shortly after, Peter heard Jayne’s excited voice calling from the front, “Peter! Come see what I’ve done!” 

Her arms were outstretched, a bouquet of bluebells glistened in the afternoon light, and an Italian necklace was indeed perfectly set off, but Peter only had eyes for one. Looking at his windswept, starry-eyed Jayne he smiled, “Aye, ’tis lovely.”