Helen took a breath. She enjoyed her time in the bathroom. She took the few moments to herself to take a rest, to close her eyes and gather her thoughts. Standing in front of the dimly-lit mirror, she tried to ignore the wrinkles that were starting to form and look past them to the woman that she was before marriage and two kids. The warm water washed the soap away from her hands, and she took one last relaxing breath before turning toward the towel dispenser. Her foot knocked against something on the tiled floor.
Looking down, something glinted in the fluorescent bathroom light. She picked it up, and the history major in her woke up after a dormant sleep. In her amateur knowledge, the ring that she held in the palm of her hand resembled something ancient Egyptian.
No, she thought. Can’t be.
The ring was an alloy of copper and silver, and the stone resembled the beautiful turquoise lapis lazuli. The stone was shaped into a scarab beetle, the symbol of good luck to ancient Egyptians. From what Helen knew, it was too ostentatious for a commoner to have; she believed it may have belonged to someone high class, or even possibly royalty. The passage of time was good to the ring, almost as if it was never worn, though some of the metal was a bit rubbed off in the back. The lapis hardly had any nicks to it at all, and shone smoothly as Helen examined it.
The bathroom was empty other than Helen. No one had entered while she was in there, so she had no idea who may have dropped this rare trinket. With a bit of a rush (her days were spent playing with mobiles and drawing with crayons, so anything new is exciting), she tried the ring on her right hand. It wasn’t a perfect fit; it was too small and wouldn’t pass her knuckle.
Her husband must be wondering where she was. She pocketed the ring, and left the bathroom, thinking at first to go to the manager of the restaurant and leave it to him to find the owner. But she didn’t want to just hand it over if it was what she thought it was. She volunteered when she could at the
She sat at her seat at the booth, sliding in next to her youngest daughter. Will looked at her curiously. “What took you so long?” he asked, cutting Maggie’s chicken into smaller pieces.
Helen shrugged, the ring heavy in her pocket. She didn’t feel it necessary to tell him about it. “Oh, you know, the usual.” Will accepted that, turning toward Sarah who was tugging his sleeve.
Nora stood at the table of elderly women, waiting for them to decide on their dinner. She had offered to come back in a few minutes, but they had insisted that they were ready. They argued back and forth between the differences of iceberg lettuce and romaine, and Nora’s mind drifted off. She stared out the window, the evening sun streaming in through the blinds. Her mind was blank, but she enjoyed the brief respite from the craziness of waitressing. Finally, one of the old crones caught her attention.
She was in the midst of scribbling down their order when she felt a strange lightness on her right hand. Her thumb absentmindedly brushed against her ring finger, and feeling nothing there, she froze. She stared down at her empty finger, heart racing. Oh, no, she thought. Where did it go?
“Excuse me, miss?” The old lady by the window waved at Nora. “Hello?”
Nora hardly heard her as she was re-tracing her steps in her head. I put it on this morning…didn’t I? She had started her shift about an hour ago, and had been back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen. She set her order pad on the ladies’ table and weaved through the eating customers, gaze on the floor, looking for the glint of blue and silver. Crouching as low as possible without causing too much attention toward her, she scanned the entire room.
“Nora?” Her manager, Owen, tapped her on the shoulder. “What are you doing?”
“I lost my ring.”
“You left your table. The ladies would like to order their food.”
“But my ring—”
“Your ring can wait. Go back to your table. It’s a busy night; I don’t have time for this.”
Owen just stared at her. Nora sighed, a sinking feeling in her stomach. Now she’ll never find it. She returned to her table and continued serving customers until she could take her break. It was hard for her to focus with her ring, her lifeline, gone from her finger. Her only tie to her family, and she had recklessly lost it. Tears came to her eyes more than once, but she kept it together until she finally made it to the bathroom to hide in a stall.
While in there, she scanned the room to see if it was anywhere, possibly kicked in a corner or sitting on the counter. Nope. She sat on a toilet and locked herself in, the cold porcelain seeping through her black pants, then buried her head in her hands, tears finally free to trickle between her fingers. How could she be so stupid? It was the most important item in her ridiculous life and she couldn’t even hold on to it. Her narrow shoulders shook with sobs and she cried until there were no tears left.
Hatshepsut stared out over the desert, where she could see the sun rising over the
A knock sounded on her door, and her servant girl, Nefru, opened it to the messenger. Nefru’s soft footsteps crossed the marble to where Hatshepsut was standing on her balcony. The servant bowed as she approached the queen.
“There is a man to see you, your Majesty,” she whispered.
“Send him over.”
His footsteps were like an elephant rampaging through the palace compared to Nefru’s silent tread. Hatshepsut inwardly smiled. Nefru could sneak up on anyone, which is partly why she was in the queen’s service. The messenger kneeled, and the queen turned to look down her nose at him.
“Tell me what news you bring.”
“Your husband, his honorable Thutmose II, has passed to the underworld. He leaves his son, Thutmose III, as his successor.”
Hatshepsut received this news stoically, aware for months that her weak husband would soon succumb to his disease. She knew also that he would overlook her daughter Neferure, a true princess, and put his son, the son of a secondary wife, on the throne instead. She kept her anger in check, not wishing to reveal emotions in front of the servants. Nodding her head, she waved him out of the room.
It had been an arranged marriage. Thutmose II was her half-brother, and to keep the royal line in the family, their father believed their marriage was the best option. Hatshepsut had done her duty by marrying Thutmose, she was always obedient because she knew her father was wise. She never loved him, and in fact hardly even saw him throughout the whole course of their marriage. He was always a weak man, and compensated for this by crushing any rebellions that popped up. Hatshepsut had her ways of manipulating him while alive, and now that he was dead, she could take over completely. News of his death hardly brought her to tears and instead forced her to put her plan into action.
Moving into her bedroom, she motioned to Nefru to help her dress. “My best linen. Plus the golden headdress and belt.”
And chaos ensues...;) Maybe someday this novel will be finished and you'll get to read the rest of the story!