Standing at the jewelry counter in Mervyn’s, I admired a necklace with silver beads and a smooth red stone pendant. School had just gotten out for the summer. My friend Jane and I would be seniors next year. Wow. Our last year of high school. I was reveling in the freedom of driving and shopping with Jane. Without my mom chauffeuring me around. Or judging my decisions. That would come later when I got home with my purchases.
I was flush with babysitting money. I worked hard for those dollars and I was going to spend them well.
I picked up the necklace, held it up to my neck, and looked in the small mirror that was standing on the counter. The necklace was so delicate. I liked the sheen of the silver beads and the smooth texture of the stone. Plus, red was my favorite color.
I turned over the tab to check the price and my hand slipped. The necklace slithered down the front of my shirt. I froze. Panic and guilt showed on my glass face. I’ve never been able to lie.
I shimmied a little trying to get the necklace to drop. It didn’t. Now What? No way was I going to reach inside my shirt while standing in the middle of Mervyn’s. I was mortified. Surely someone saw what happened. Weren’t there cameras and employees and watching teenaged girls loitering in the jewelry department?
I was equally sure there were cameras in the dressing rooms, so ducking into one to retrieve the necklace was out.
“Hey Inga, let’s go,” Jane called. “I’m done shopping.” In her code, that meant she had lifted something and wanted to get out of the store as fast as she could. Jane was way more daring than I was.
We walked towards the door. With every step, I was sure we would be stopped by a security person. Everyone must know I had a necklace under my shirt.
Two more steps and we were on the sidewalk. No one stopped us.
“Come on, let’s go get cookies and I’ll show you want I lifted. Did you get something?”
No, I thought, not on purpose. It wasn’t really stealing.
I never wore the necklace.