The Tiara By Miss Shanaya Stephens

Summer in Seattle is a must to die for. The air having its own balance of chill and heat, lavishly sweeping off the streets and wide pavements as it enters the chambers of Marvin Mansion; through the unclosed windows who acknowledge its arrival with a shitter-shatter of their constituent wooden arms flapping open so as to embrace the guest; the silk veil of a curtain now sliding off as it reveals the precious beauty of a little child drooling all over in her bed, probably dreaming. Taking this opportunity as his cue, the uninvited rays from the Sun kiss her cheeks causing little Betty to whine in utter displeasure. The warmth still unwelcomed by the little victim who was busy dreaming about the castle she rules in; the one where she is the Princess and the Prince of faraway meadows comes to dance with her at! Exactly the same way her Mommy had told her in that story.
“Wake up Betty. Two more days and Mommy would be gone. Won’t you allow your poor Mommy to have a tasty breakfast with you?” The lady in pure white satin robes said. Her eyes searching for the little girl as she saw the child hide in the cream covers. She walked towards the four-poster bed and lifted the sheets to find the dreaming child. Her fingersnow caressing the honey-colored locks of the pure innocence manifested in a mortal form.
“Can I please sleep for a little while, Mommy? Please…I am dancing at the ball. And the prince gave me a Tiara!” Little Betty mumbled half asleep as a kiss landed on her forehead. The affection returned with a failed attempt of hug causing close proximity between the decorative pillow and Little Betty as she again dived into sleep.
“If you wake up now, Mommy would buy you a Tiara…with all the rainbow colors in it. Even more beautiful than the one with the Dolly!” Betty’s Mommy said playfully as she put Little Betty’s forehead on her lap and fondled her pink cheeks.
“Okay, Mommy but you’ve got to promise me you will! Cross your heart!” The little girl mumbled.“I promise. See mommy crosses her heart!”The lady replied and chuckled.
“Fine then. I am waking up.''Little Betty said and sprang up from her bed, the covers falling off and landing softly on the wooden floor as her little feet paced the bedroom and walked into the bathroom with her dear Mommy chasing her. Her Mommy bathed Little Betty; all the while pretending to be the Little Blue-eyed Princess’ Royal caretaker.
“No, you are not doing it right. I want my hair done like her!” Betty said, pouting and whining, pointing her tiny fingers at the doll whose hair was made into two cute pigtails.``Okay! My apologies Princess. Let me do it correctly, Your Highness.''The lady said makingBetty laugh, as she combed her princess’ tresses.
A smile crept on her usually tight lying face; revealing how beautiful, charming, and suitable it looked on her milk-white face. The thin blood-red lips and her milk-white tone, a blessed contrasting fusion painted to in a beautiful portrait of a woman. The grace of her beautybefitting a Queen’s and yet she prefers to be the baby angel’s (devil’s) caretaker!
“Come Betty. Mommy’s going to be late for breakfast and so will be her darling Princess!” she said as she lifted Little Betty in her arms and walked towards the kitchen. The little girl clutching to her Mommy hard as they reached the breakfast table.
“Good Morning Miss. Hampshire.''The lady of the house Mrs. Marvin greeted with a soft smile which Miss. Hampshire returned with equal warmth followed by morning greetings all around the table as the Marvins gathered around the table for a planned Sunday breakfast.
Little Betty found herself a seat closer to her Mom and Miss. Marvin while the other four, that would be Mr. Marvin, his sister Mrs. Madison and the Marvin Twins seated on the other end of the long teak table. The breakfast was served. Little Betty didn’t eat anything at all. She would not taste even her favorite plum pudding and maintained her gloomy make-up all while Miss. Hampshire and Mrs. Marvin looked at her worried.
“What is it, my child?” Mrs. Marvin asked Little Betty.
“I don’t want to eat.” Little Betty replied.
“Why? Is the food not of your liking my dear?” Mrs. Marvin asked with a horrifiedexpression. No meal liked by Little Betty was amiss and still, she didn’t eat anything…this made Mrs. Marvin worried.
“I want my tiara. A tiara is a must for a Princess to begin her day!” Little Betty complained.``My, my! How foolish of me. Sorry, Princess. I will buy you one as soon as we go to the store!” Miss. Hampshire said.``Mommy, I want one right now!” Little Betty started whining.
“Here. Take this necklace, my dear… A princess with a necklace is more beautiful than a tiara. I swear by God!'' Mrs. Marvin said and everyone gave up into laughter including little Betty who was really amused by the ornament and forgot all about the tiara altogether. Miss. Hampshire looked keenly at her precious Betty and smiled a weak smile. Betty dreamed of the tiara quite long and yet she settled with the necklace. This caughtMiss. Hampshire off guard…Will her little Betty let go of her Tiara that easily. The thought startled her.
“I will be retiring from my studies. Hope you have a good day. Excuse me.''Miss Hampshireannounced as everyone completed their tuna sandwich. Miss Hampshire stood up and felt a tug. She turned to see Little Betty clutching to her gown.
“Don’t go, Mommy. I want to play with you and you must help me with the dress I am making for Molly (the doll).''Little Betty said crying. Before Miss Hampshire could answer to the pleas of her little precious Princess, Mrs.Marvin held her in her arms and kissed her cheeks.``I will play with you, Princess. I will help you with the dress too, let Mommy go. Will you?''Mrs. Marvin said.
Betty nodded and Miss Hampshire smiled meekly and retired to her study with a heavy heart. Miss Hampshire had been in the study for the whole afternoon and came out at evening with a bunch of paper works and the smell of fresh ink was a testimony that a lot of effort was put in to write them.
“Mommy!” Little Betty said with joy and ran into her arms causing a letter to slip down from the bunch Miss Hampshire was carrying.``Oh! My love!” Miss Hampshire said and lifted her up and kissed her on cheeks, not paying heed to the scattered paperwork.
“Oh, my dear! I will take care of the paperwork.” Mrs. Marvin said and started gathering the paper scattered all over the floor. After all, the paper works are what she needed to claim back what was seemingly hers all along.
“Come, dear. Let’s have dinner. Then I will sing you a lullaby.” Miss Hampshire said with a cheery smile.
“Okay Mommy,” Little Betty said, all excited. She loved Mommy’s lullaby.
The dinner was served and all of them enjoyed it…Miss Hampshire looked bothered a bit but the pranks played by the twins on the cook and their numerous stories kept everyone captivated and amused. The dinner brought a jolly spirit all along and Little Betty sang a pretty poem when they were drinking wine.
The night drew in and almost everyone was fast asleep now. The clock struck 12 and LittleBetty’s snoring could be heard all around the room. Poor kid had skipped the rope too long after playing hopscotch with the twins. Miss Hampshire was wide awake, glancing at Little Betty who was deep asleep. She slipped Betty’s head onto the pillow and left the room quietly kissing Betty one last time. Miss Hampshire crept to her study and looked at her already packed luggage with Miss Hampshire sitting on the couch.
“Mellie…Ah! I was waiting for you. Now that you have given the paperwork already….Are You sure you wanna leave today only?” Mrs. Marvin asked.“I could stay here for my whole life and enjoy your hospitality Augusta, but if it were so I Will never let you claim my ‘Tiara’.”Miss Hampshire replied coldly.
“As you wish. It’s just she is mine right now. My Betty is mine now. All these years and I Could only be grateful to you Mellie!” Mrs. Marvin said.
“You don’t have to put on a show for me Augusta…You abandoned her because she was illegitimate and then you claim her back when your rich husband pleases to have a daughter. My dear Betty! I raised her as my only child, decide to remain a celibate my whole life and you come and cruelly take her away from me Augusta.”Miss Hampshire said and broke into tears.
“I didn’t have a choice back then Mellie. After Richard died I could do nothing about my poor unborn kid. I am obliged to you all along. You have done more than what I can ask from a sister.''Mrs. Marvin said and a tear slipped down her cheek as she embraced her sister with love.
“Please take good care of my Princess. Augusta you have demanded my whole life from me and I hope it’s for a good reason. Give my letter to my dear Tiara. I for once will never forgive you for keeping us apart but neither could I keep her away from her mother. Can I Augusta? I will take my leave now.” Miss Hampshire said and left with her luggage.
Mrs. Marvin stood by the mansion’s patio and watched her sister go away. MissHampshire…Gone, with her life, her tiara, her heart all left behind. Mrs. Marvin went to her bed and lay still for a long while; not knowing what will now become of the ‘Tiara’ and more importantly about its former bearer. The thought was disturbing…She knew it all along that it would be a bit tough to convince Betty but with time everything will smoothen up. However deep down she still knew that she had been a bit selfish…Always was. She romanticized Richard knowing he was Mellie’s fiancé, and then she abandoned her daughter but poor Mellie won’t let go of anything that had a part of Richard in it; the only remembrance of Richard after he was gone forever and now she snatched away Betty from Mellie again. Was she really always so unjust with Mellie…And Mellie never retorted back once before, not when she cheated her with Richard and not even at the time when she abandoned Betty but now it seemed she couldn’t let go of Betty. Maybe it was love after all…Love for Richard, for Betty …but for Augusta, it was still an oblivious feeling. Anyways, it was done, all done. That night Augusta had a hard time thinking but she eventually fell asleep with the tangled thoughts.
The Monday morning came in and Little Betty was up already. She felt uneasy…Hermommy was nowhere to be seen and she didn’t even come to wake her up. Little Bettyrushed to Aunt Augusta’s room, crying as she walked down the living room.
“What is it, my angel?” Mrs. Marvin lifted her up and kissed away her tears. “Mommy…She’s not in her room…She-“ Little Betty cried bitterly.
“Mommy has been to a store, Princess. She crossed her heart and promised to buy you a tiara…She felt very bad the other day. She has gone to the faraway meadows to bring the one with the rainbow colors. Just like Dolly’s.'' Mrs. Marvin said, convincing the little girl.
“Really Aunty?” Little Betty said and her eyes lit up with joy and the sudden remembrance of her Mommy and the Tale of Tiara made her happy once again.
“Yes, my darling!” Mrs. Marvin replied and tried her very best to hide her tears through a forced smile but all in vain. The reminisces of Mellie, Richard, and all the good times with her little sister flashed before her eyes…The tale of tiara…Her tiara… The tiara never abandoned her no matter what. The tiara which was broken and gone…Gone all the way with all but a letter; the letter not to Betty but to Augusta, the same words she wished she could have said all along to her Mellie!
“Are you crying, Aunt Augusta? Please don’t. Mommy says brave girls don’t cry. I know you are very brave Aunt Augusta.”The little grown-up Mellie in the guise of Betty said and kissed Augusta on her forehead just like Betty’s Mommy used to do with her when she cried at the end of the Tale of Tiara when she came to knew that the tiara was broken. ‘Perhaps AuntAugusta might have got her Tiara or necklace broken, but mommy always says you can replace it!’Little Betty thought.
Augusta embraced little Betty in her arms while her tears soaked Betty’s hair. Augusta Wiped her tears as Betty sang her Mommy’s song to Augusta, the same song that she and Mellie used to sing together -
“Don’t you cry oh pretty lady,
Looking at your broken tiara,
The pearls, the jewels, and the gems,
They all lay their still,
Oh, pretty lady,
Reinvent it with gold,
Add a bit of love,
Embed the pearls with compassion,
It will shine like a new one,
We will add a million rainbow colors to it,
And it will still look great on you,
When you will smile my lady
Don’t you cry, pretty lady….”
“The tiara…All unique but broken. It's bearer all pretty but alone and the love it brings to the bearer…Pure, innocent, selfless and making you feel more lovelorn. The tiara!” Augusta recalls from the letter as she closes her eyes.

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