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The Jewelry Box

by Ayva Habets

1908, the story where it all took place. The dead mother, the abandoned baby, the jewelry box. It is now 2022, but the story still lives on. Read, as I explain the meaning of this artifact, the jewelry box.

A young woman named Margaret Heinrich, a widow, was about to give birth to her daughter, the only child she will have. Alas, she figured out that she was in labor too late, not having enough time to go to the hospital. So, she delivered her baby on her own. When the child was born, Margaret died. The baby lay on the floor for three hours with no food or water.

One of the town’s members, Mabel, who was also Margaret’s sister, decided to pay her a visit, as they had planned the day before. You can only imagine the horror in Mabel’s eyes when she discovered her dead sister on the floor. Mabel screamed when she saw her sister on the floor, with no life in her body. Without thinking, she ran out the door, and rushed to the constable’s office. Little did she know the newborn baby was beside her dead mother.

“Constable Williams, Constable Williams!” Mabel shrieked, while trying to process that her younger sister was dead. “Mabel, how lovely to see you! Is everything all right?” Constable Williams asked, trying to keep Mabel calm. “Why would I come here screaming if things were all right!” Mabel asked. “My sister she’s she’s-” Mabel couldn’t bring herself to admit that her sister was dead. She burst into tears. Constable Williams spoke gently, with a touch of fear in his voice. “Margaret?” “Margaret. She’s dead.” Mabel sobbed. “I need to get to Ms. Heinrich’s house right away. I’ll bring the coroner but hopefully she’s just passed out.” And with that, Constable Williams hurriedly left for Margaret’s house.

When Constable Williams arrived with Franklin, the coroner, they not only found the depressing sight of Margaret’s dead body on the floor, but also a baby girl. “Oh my gosh! There’s a baby here! How long has she been here, is it Margaret’s? OH MY GOSH!” Franklin said, not knowing if the baby would survive. Constable Williams picked to baby and looked into her big blue eyes. “That’s a Heinrich alright. Poor thing looks just like her father I just can’t believe that she is alive! Check to see if she’s sick. You’re a trained doctor too, right?” Constable Williams said. After Franklin checked the baby, he said that she was fine, surprisingly. The men found clothes for the baby. Then they fed her with formula they found in the Heinrich kitchen. They were in shock. They didn’t expect to find a newborn while picking up a body. “We should give this baby to Mabel, she has children of her own, so she is experienced, I guess.” Franklin said. “I’ll take the baby with me and pay a visit to Mabel’s house.” Constable Williams said. “Wait.” Franklin said. “See that box there?” Franklin pointed to a jewelry box on the kitchen counter. “Kind of looks like a jewelry box, right? Didn’t Margaret say she would give her baby a jewelry box with a string of pearls for when she was older?” Franklin asked. Constable Williams picked up the box and inspected it. “Wait. The box has the name Vivianne carved on the lid. This might be what Margaret wanted to name her daughter. So Vivianne Lucile Heinrich is her name I guess?” Constable Williams said. “It’s up to you.” Franklin said. “I’ll bring the jewelry box with me, to give Mabel to give to Vivianne when she’s older.” Constable Williams and Franklin both left the house going their separate ways.

Constable Williams arrived at Mabels house with Vivianne. He explained the story to her. “I can’t.” Mabel said flatly, with no emotion in her voice. “What do you mean you can’t? This is your orphaned niece, and she needs a home. If you don’t give her one, then she’ll have to go to an orphanage!” Constable Williams couldn’t believe that Mabel wouldn’t take her niece to live with her. “Yes well, I already have my hands full with my 8 kids.” Mabel said once again with her voice flat, as if she didn’t care about Vivianne at all. “But I can’t send Vivianne to the orphanage. Please Mabel take her.” Constable Williams said, hoping she would have a heart. “If you can’t take her to the orphanage then why don’t you adopt her yourself instead of going around and begging people to take a baby.” Mabel asked rudely. “Then I’ll do just that.” Constable Williams said. And he left, still holding Vivianne, taking her to his own home.

“Honey I’m home.” Constable Williams called to his wife nervously, as he hadn’t spoken to his wife that they now had a baby. Calista, Constable Williams’ wife, hurried downstairs, as she was just brushing the hair of their two daughters, Aurelia and Eloise, aged 7 and 4. “Yes darling” Calista said, eyeing Vivianne, not knowing why she was there. “Whose baby is this? Are we looking after her tonight?” Calista asked. “Well…” Constable Williams was hesitant, because he wanted to keep Vivianne. “She’s ours. Her mother, Margaret Heinrich died, and she was found the house. She was born today. Her name is Vivianne Lucile Heinrich. I was hoping that we could maybe adopt her?” “I don’t get why you wouldn’t talk to me about it first. We already have our hands full with Aurelia and Eloise. We don’t need another daughter.” Calista was firm, making sure she got her way. “But if we don’t adopt her, then she’ll have to go to the orphanage. You know my past Calista. You don’t want her to be like me, with no one adopting her. Do you know how hard it was for me, to be kicked out the second I turned-” Calista interrupted him, not wanting to hear it. “Listen if you want to adopt her, then it won’t be under this roof. You’ll have to leave with her.” “Calista don’t be like that.” Constable Williams tried to reason with his wife. “Leave.” Calista said. So, Constable Williams left for his cottage. With Vivianne in his arms.

Fast forward 20 years. The year is 1928 Vivianne is 20 years old, and Constable Williams was on his death bed. Vivianne still did not know that she was adopted. One day Constable Williams called Vivianne to his room, minutes before he died. “Vivianne, I must tell you something.” What is it, Father?” Vivianne asked, knowing that it was time for her father to expose all his secrets, as he was on his deathbed. “Well, Vivianne, as you know, I love you as my own child.” Vivianne was confused. Wasn’t she, his child? “Aren’t I your daughter?” Vivianne asked. “You legally are my daughter.” Constable Williams said, hesitating to tell his daughter the truth. “But I adopted you.” Constable Williams said. Vivianne didn’t know how to feel. She felt happy, because her father loved her so much that he made her his family. But she also felt betrayed, and sad. She has been lied to for her whole life. “Who- who are my real parents” Vivianne asked. “Well, you were an orphan. Your father died a couple months before you were born. Your mother died when you were born. She delivered you herself and died at once. You were alone for 3 hours. Then I came with the coroner, and I saw you. Your aunt didn’t want to adopt you. I couldn’t bear having a beautiful baby like you abandoned in an orphanage. So, I took you home. My wife at the time didn’t want you either, so I left her, and my two daughters, Aurelia and Eloise, who are about 27 and 22 now.” Constable Williams said. Vivianne was silent. “Thank you” “What do you mean thank you?” Constable Williams asked, confused. “You did so much for me… a stranger to you.” Vivianne said, with tears in her eyes. “Vivianne… there was something your mother left for you, I guess it was for you when you were born.” Constable Williams said, while handing her the jewelry box he found so many years ago. “I’m sorry I didn’t give it to you before. I just couldn’t bring myself to explain to you that you weren’t my daughter.” Constable Williams said, as a tear trickled down his cheek. Vivianne opened the box. Her name was carved on the lid. Inside there was the pearl necklace her mother left for her. “I will always love you. As my daughter, not my adopted child.” Constable Williams said. He took his last deep breath. And with that he died.

As it is the end of the story, you must be thinking “how could a stranger know so much about the story of Vivianne Lucile Heinrich?” Well, I know so much about her because I am Vivianne’s granddaughter, and this is her story.