The Golden Earring: A Short Story
When Angie put her key in the front door and opened it for the first time, she felt a presence. Strange.
She carried her overstuffed suitcase and a little bit of fear over the threshold into her temporary home. This would be fine. She was only house sitting for the Debsons for the week, and she felt the sweet relief of quiet. No more “Have you finished all of your college applications? Can you watch your little sister tonight? Stop being lazy and start being productive.”
Angie set her things in the guest room. She pulled a hair tie off her wrist and put her long, brown hair into a ponytail. She walked down the creaky hallway to the kitchen, and stopped in front a large mirror hung on the wall. She checked her hair and her gaze immediately went to the shining, gold earring in her left ear. She lightly touched the gold, raindrop shape, daydreaming about the day that her grandmother had passed down the heirloom to her.
When she turned her head, she noticed her right earlobe was bare. “Shit.” She scanned the floor in a hurry in the bedroom, the hallway, the outside walkway, and her car. It was nowhere to be seen. She slowly walked through the house; combing through her belongings that were strewn about. Angie’s stomach did a backflip and she itched at her right ear, as if that would bring the earring back.
It was pleasantly cool in the house but Angie had to wipe the sweat from her brow. She went to the kitchen and opened the door to the refrigerator and stared at the contents: wilted lettuce, a gallon of whole milk, Tupperware full of a mystery meal, and a bottle of soda. When she opened the bottle of soda there was no hiss of carbonation.
Angie pulled a glass out of the cupboard and set it on the counter. She was dumping out the contents in the sink when a smash came from behind her. Angie whipped around and saw the glass had fallen. It was sparkling on the middle of the floor, away from the counter where she had just placed it.
“Seriously?” she said out loud, deadpan. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
She started to pick up the big shards of glass and almost immediately started to bleed. A lot. She wrapped the thumb on her right hand with a wad of paper towels. She scanned the bathroom vanity for Band-Aids, but when she opened the box it was empty. She took her hair out of the ponytail and wrapped the hair tie around her thumb, securing the paper towel in place. She grabbed her keys and drove to the supermarket downtown. She tried to ignore the stinging.
As Angie put her arm through the handles of a basket, a store clerk caught her by surprise.
“Hello, can I help you find anything?”
“Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to scare ya.” The middle-aged man smiled and the wrinkles around his eyes creased.
“Oh, no, that’s okay,” Angie said. “I think I’m all set—I’m just grabbing some Band-Aids and some essentials,” she said, raising her thumb in the air.
“I will be right back with your Band-Aids ma’am,” the man said, shuffling to the pharmacy section in a hurry.
Angie scanned over the produce and picked two ripe tomatoes, fresh greens, and a cucumber. The clerk waddled back over and put the Band-Aids in Angie’s basket.
“Thank you so much,” she said.
“Not a problem, ma’am. Say, do you know you only have one earring in?” He tugged on his own right earlobe.
“Yeah, unfortunately, I don’t know where the other one went. They’re my favorite pair.” Angie felt her eyes start to water but quickly blinked away the tears.
“That’s a shame,” the clerk said. “I bet it’ll turn back up, just say a prayer to Saint Anthony.”
“Will do,” Angie said, unconvinced.
She walked up and down of the six isles of the small supermarket. She didn’t want to go back to the house just yet. Maybe she shouldn’t have offered to house sit. She had never noticed how old and creepy the house was when she came over with her parents to visit in the past. Something made her feel a little uneasy when she was there; what if it was haunted?
Angie shook her head, trying to get rid of her paranoid thoughts.
“It’ll be fine,” she said quietly to herself. She played with the earring in her left ear and read the labels of the generic brand cereal in front of her.
“Need help finding anything?” The clerk said. He was standing on Angie’s right.
“No, no. I think I’m actually all set,” she said a little annoyed.
“My, you’re jumpy. I’m sorry if I scared you, again.”
Angie just smiled at him with her lips closed. She followed him to the front register and paid for her groceries. She was feeling more at ease about going back to the house now; at least there wouldn’t be men sneaking up on her and scaring her.
She quietly paid and left before the creepy clerk said anything else. On her drive home, Angie tried to rack her brain on all the places her earring could have fallen out. It was no use, though. She knew it was gone forever. She would just have to treasure the remaining earring.
While Angie put the groceries away, she heard a door slam somewhere in the house. She went to investigate and found that the guest room door was closed; it must have been the wind. She had a habit of leaving doors open for airflow.
When she opened the door, and as she stepped into the room, a glimmer on the pillow caught her eye. She bent over to get a closer look. Her stomach flipped, this time in a mixture of relief and anxiety. She couldn’t believe it. Placed perfectly in the middle of her pillow was the missing golden earring.