When he gives me the necklace, he says he chose it to match my beautiful eyes. Turquoise blue he says, even though my eyes are sea green. He fixes me with a look. A look saying, don’t challenge me. A look saying, never challenge me.
I know he wants me to be grateful for his choosing the gemstones. He wants me to smile and bow my head while he fastens the catch at the back of my head.
I let my hair fall forward to cover my face. A snatched interlude when I can purse my lips and prepare myself, eyes closed.
He snags my hair in the fastening.
“Sorry,” he says, when I jump at the hurt and he gives my neck a kiss, but he’s smiling and he’s not sorry and he keeps a hand on my neck.
“Thank you,” I say, looking up at him, steady. “It’s beautiful.”
And he looks at me with satisfaction like he’s decorated a cake or re-arranged the living-room furniture. Like he’s displayed the books on the shelves by the colours on their dust jackets or arranged his records in alphabetical order.
And I’m calculating under his appraisal. How much I could get at the pawn shop? How soon I could say I mislaid it? And will the consequences be worth it?
He’s given me turquoise stones, but I know his true gift is also unyielding. It’s hard as nails, brittle steel. A gift he’s chosen for our married life. A gift he keeps on giving.