Eletha sat around a campfire with a group of people who had gone on a camping trip. She had come across them when travelling over some high hills covered in scattered groups of trees. She had been walking for a while so had welcomed the invitation.
The group consisted of two girls and two guys in their late teens and early twenties. It was early evening, with the sun having set an hour or so before. The closest girl called April, and youngest at eighteen, handed Eletha a warm cup of tea. The elf woman took it from her with a thank you and blew on it before taking a sip. The people before her were all humans so despite being older she looked like she was in her late teens herself.
The group chatted to her as if they were friends already, then began exchanging stories with her before finally the other girl called Candice, who Eletha found out was twenty, turned to her and asked, “Have you any nice stories to share with us?” Her long auburn hair blew in her face a little so she pushed it behind her ear with a smile on her face, her eyes curious. Eletha watched her for a moment before opening her bag and fishing through it. She soon found her purse which had a side pocket to it. She unzipped that and pulled out a beautiful, dainty necklace with small dazzling gems decorating the silver chain. The girls seemed to perk up at its appearance while the boys just watched, waiting for her explanation.
After she stared at it for a few seconds, she held the necklace in both hands and sat up, with a small smile on her face, her eyes soft filled with a mixture of happiness and melancholy. Happy because of the fond memories, but sad because they ended so abruptly.
“I was given this by my mother when I turned thirteen. Thirteen, the first year of truly becoming a teenager. My mother saw this as a point of growing up. She, too, had been given this necklace when she herself had turned thirteen,” Eletha said, raising her eyes to look at the group around the cosy fire, “Though I liked to hunt as my father and twin brothers did, my mother wanted me to dance. She was a beautiful and graceful dancer and well loved. Her performances at our festivals and celebrations were ones to marvel at.
She would give me lessons most every day, and her voice was so melodic that I would find myself dancing to her songs when she wasn’t looking. I grew to love and appreciate the art much against my own wishes. I began to perform myself when I turned ten, but thirteen marked the time where my dances would become much more complex and elegant. I soon was admired, and I remember the cheers and praises I received when I look at this necklace. But most important of all is I remember my mother’s face, words, and beauty. Her laughter, her love. When I first received this necklace, I wore it every day. I was so proud to have it and admired it in awe, I wanted everyone else to see it.
However, unbeknownst to me, my mother had kept a secret about it from me. It was only a month later that I went to buy some materials for my mother when the shop owner said to me, ‘So who are you marrying?’ I was so shocked, my jaw dropped and I couldn’t say a word. My expression must have been one of confusion, for the man explained, “That necklace is one to say you are going to be wed.”
I must say, I almost forgot to buy the materials. I wanted to run home. The man reminded me about what I had come for, so as soon as I bought them, I ran all the way home and when I saw my mother I almost yelled at her, demanding to know what he meant! She just turned around to face me and laughed, rubbing the back of her head with a sheepish look on her face before she admitted that originally it was a necklace given to the daughter who will be betrothed, because lots of the marriages were arranged marriages back in the past, unless the daughter had a mutual love with another, in which case the necklace would mean she was going to marry that person she was in love with. But it had lost its meaning two generations back, with my grandmother. She had given it to my mother when she turned thirteen and told her she could start courting whomever she wanted rather than be marked for marriage. So my mother intended the same meaning. She just failed to tell me what it really meant. Needless to say, the shop owner was apologetic to me and seemed wary of my mother. She must have gone to visit him and scolded him. He was known as a bit of a joker and liked to tease people.” Eletha found herself laughing at the memory and the girls laughed as well, while the boys chuckled amongst themselves.
“Why don’t you keep wearing it?” April asked, and Eletha just smiled gently at her, “It feels too precious. It is a memento of my mother and circumstances have changed. I am not courting, I have no one I love. But if there ever comes a time, I will wear this again proudly. I will even wear it on my wedding day, if that day should come.” She looked down at the necklace, finding herself grinning again, wider than she had in a while, and brought the necklace up to her lips, her eyelids falling closed as she pictured her mother’s awkward expression. To her, it was such a funny memory to look back on, and a lovely one. One where her life had been so vibrant, exciting and carefree, and the necklace constantly reminded her of that.