The Locket

The Locket

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

The Locket

Friendship is the shadow of the evening, which strengthens with the setting sun of life.

Jean de La Fontaine

Lydia went up into the attic to get the old dehumidifier for Grandma Ruth’s bedroom. Once she’d opened the trapdoor and climbed the rickety old ladder into the crawl space, she couldn’t resist rummaging through some of the family heirlooms stored up there. Her attention was drawn to an old locket resting on top of a photo collection, stacked neatly in an attractive but faded hatbox. Lydia’s curiosity got the better of her, so she carefully picked up and examined the tiny piece of jewelry. It didn’t look expensive, but it was well made and charming. She knew it must have been a special present to a child.

She gingerly snapped the clasp open, taking care not to break the delicate hinges. Hidden inside were two miniature photographs of smiling little girls, perhaps eight or nine years old. One of the happy young faces looked just like her Grandma Ruth. But who was the other young lady? Could it be that Lydia had a secret, long-lost great-aunt? Who was this stranger in the locket and what had become of her?

Forgetting the dehumidifier and clutching the locket, Lydia scurried down the ladder and burst into Grandma’s sewing room. Grandma was busy at work on her entry in the town’s annual quilting bee.

“Grandma,” Lydia exclaimed, “look what I found. Is this you?”

Grandma slowly took the trinket from Lydia’s hand and cupped it gently in her palm. She examined it quietly for a moment. A sad, wistful smile passed over her face. “It’s me,” she nodded.

“But who’s the other little girl? You look so much alike. Was she . . . was she your sister?”

“Oh, no,” Grandma laughed, “No . . . but we were as close as any sisters could be, Emma and I.”

“But who was she?” Lydia asked eagerly.

“We grew up together right here in town. Went everywhere together—we wore the same clothes, rode the same bikes. We even got the same haircut. I remember the day these photos were taken, down at the old Imperial Theater—of course, that’s a laundromat now.”

“Sounds like you two had a very special friendship.”

“We were like peas in a pod,” Grandma agreed, “until Emma’s family moved away to Akron. Her father was a doctor, and he took a job at a clinic in the city. We wrote every day, then every week, then a few times a year—all through high school, and even after I met your Grandpa Bill. But somehow we lost touch after that. It’s been more than fifty years since I’ve heard from her.”

Grandma’s story made Lydia think of her own special friendships, how much they meant to her and how she would hate to lose touch with the “Emmas” in her own life.

“I wonder whatever happened to her,” sighed Grandma, “I guess I’ll never know.”

But Lydia was never one to give up hope, and seeing Grandma’s reaction to the locket, she was determined to find out. She spent the remainder of her stay poring over Emma’s old letters—she didn’t want to miss a single one.

Fortunately, Grandma had saved many of them, pressed between the pages of a heavy copy of the young friends’ favorite book, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Like the book, Emma’s letters also told a moving story—the story of two great friends coming of age together. But the story of Ruth and Emma wasn’t a tale of fiction; it was all true.

Lydia was struck by one letter in particular. It was among the latest in Grandma’s collection, and it contained a clue she thought might help them learn of Emma’s whereabouts. One of Emma’s last letters announced that she had taken a teaching position at a school in the city. Perhaps that school still existed and might have some record of Grandma’s old friend.

Some amateur detective work on the Internet quickly revealed that the school was still in operation, but had relocated to a new building in 1963. Lydia was worried. Had Emma’s records survived the move? It was time to make some phone calls.

The principal was reluctant to share any details over the phone, but when Lydia explained the unique circumstances, she agreed to meet in person. Lydia bought a round-trip bus ticket and was on her way to Akron later that same week.

Lydia’s meeting with the principal was more successful than she had dared to hope. Emma had retired before the principal had come to the school, but a few of the older teachers had fond memories of her. The French teacher still visited with her regularly. She could arrange a meeting.

Two weeks later, on the day of the annual quilting bee, Emma made the journey all the way from Akron, driven by her son Steve. Lydia had spent the morning calming Grandma, who paced nervously about the house, straightening and restraightening the doilies.

Emma entered quietly. “Ruth,” she said with a shy smile.

Without a word, Grandma handed Emma the locket. No words were needed.

Emma’s son Steve was an accomplished photographer, and his cameras captured beautifully the meeting of the two friends. When they left, he asked to borrow the locket. Nobody was quite sure why, until a package arrived at Grandma’s house a few weeks later. Steve had enlarged, restored and framed the original photos of the young friends in the locket, and added two more—the old friends, reunited at last.

As for Lydia, she made a special lifelong friend of her own. She and Steve are expecting their first child this spring.

Tal Aviezer and Jason Cocovinis

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners