Eliza Tavernier set aside her sketchpad and rubbed her aching neck, her hand cupping the curls of bobbed hair which brushed the tips of her ears. Winter darkness had fallen and the dark panelling of her office intensified the gloom. She sat at her desk, once her father’s, and wondered if he would ever have been proud of her achievements. Leon Tavernier had only one ambition for his youngest child. Marriage. Eliza considered her greatest achievement to be the Relámpago sapphire necklace, featured in La Moda magazine, and now Miss Fitz was taking trunk calls from Rome and Vienna from gentlemen and ladies wishing to place orders.Atop of a pile of unread magazines sat a jewellery box. Her fingers lingered over the gold embossed lettering ‘Atelier Tavernier, Fitzroy Square, London’. This was the first piece of Atelier Tavernier jewellery she had owned, her father had proclaimed her too young for precious gems and to this day she simply opened the display case every morning and chose something to suit her dress. She had paid for this tiara with her own money. She remembered the first sketch, how her sharpened pencil had flown across the paper knowing what it would draw before she did. The rubies were chosen individually to symbolise her heart, her commitment, her determination to prove to everyone she could run the Atelier. And large diamonds, brilliants cut according to Mr Tolowsky’s dimensions, her success shining from the 58 facets on each stone.
She sat back in her father’s chair. The day after his funeral, her first as director, she had taken down the gilt-framed oil paintings of his beloved Paris. Now the walls were covered by large sheets of art paper to which were glued pictures from fashion magazines, squares of brightly-coloured fabric, their edges fraying like fringes of grass on an ill-trimmed lawn, and watercolour sketches of brooches, rings, necklaces and bracelets. Each sketch bore her trademark signature ETL.
She was right to celebrate tonight, despite the pile of private commissions awaiting her attention. A diamond encrusted locket for Miss Emmeline Cunard, an 18th birthday present from her parents, to be completed before they set sail for New York on the 28th of next month. A waist-length necklace of pea-sized pearls and diamonds with onyx rondelles to be worn by Mrs James Granding at the Bare Flesh party, to be measured to fit the exact dimensions of her backless dress.
She reached to open the leather box then drew back as if bitten by her mother’s Pekinese. She licked the bead of blood, as red as the tiara’s rubies, and examined her finger. Beastly box. She must speak with Mr Luckless, have the rough edges of the clasp filed before she touched it again. She could not conceive that a customer should cut her finger as she had. The glow of success evaporated.
Beginnings. Eliza Tavernier was the first woman whose life would be cut by this tiara. She would not be the last.
© Sandra Danby
[this story is the first of seven published at Ether Books as part of the ‘Flash Fortnight Challenge 2014]
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
BEGINNINGS: a #shortstory about a woman & a tiara via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2vh