A story of love and sacrifice – Daisy has to make the decision to live a poor life with her love or a life in high society, married to the man her mother chose for her. Set on the night before her wedding into high society.

Tokens of a Shattered Heart

Vibrant red and gold swathed the room, a perfect display of wealth. The ornate oversized furniture created the perfect backdrop for the painted doll I resembled. I spun around to eye the bed blanketed with my finest clothes and most treasured possessions, melding together to create an explosion of colour. These were the trappings of wealth that were the foundations of the façade that had been my life. Amongst this cacophony of colour, my bags stood organized seeming out of place, awaiting my call to the porter. With the resonate chime of the grandfather clock echoing down the hall, I realized that guests would have begun their ascent on the hotel to celebrate the coming day. Soon they would look for me to play the part of hostess and eager bride. They would look to congratulate me and pass judgment on what a smart match Tom and I made. How can it be a smart match when I craved another?

Gliding over to my bags, the mirror reflected my dishevelled appearance framed in gold. Golden curls escaping carefully placed pins, my dress hung tousled around my body. What a wonderful doll I made. With a pull at my hair, more curls fell from their dazzling restraints. My hands trailed down to rest on the shining string of pearls that demanded attention. Their weight felt suffocating as they hugged my thin neck, allowing little room for movement; they bore me down like dead weights. My hands tried to release the clasp, but my efforts were clumsy as the pearls claim on my neck held fast.

The tell-tale sound of someone's approach interrupted my battle with the pearls. I prayed they would turn into another room although I knew already who the tread belonged to; one cannot live with those footsteps prowling the house at night without them branded into one's psyche. I spun to face the door, each click of the elegant heel an approaching alarm, which compelled my feet to retreat. My fingers still toyed with the clasp binding my neck as it suddenly sprung free; the pearls fell into my hands. Their luminescent sparkle held promises of beauty, yet their beauty only reminded me of my shattered dreams. Overwhelmed with distaste I threw them behind me, they landed in a tangled heap upon my bed. It was only as I tore my eyes away that the door handle turned and my mother burst into the room. Her appearance commanded attention and her maid, entering in her wake, almost invisible as she placed something down before bowing out quietly.

"A celebration," my mother declared gesturing towards the object deposited by the maid, and which I now identified as a wine bottle. "As my mother bought to me before my own wedding," the amusement faded from her eyes as she surveyed the state of my room. I could see her mind analysing the scene with cool appraisal, "It is too early to pack for the honeymoon; the maid can deal with that tomorrow." A warning flashed clear as her eyes met mine, commanding my obedience. I suppose she expected me to laugh and come up with an excuse for the array of clothing on my bed and suitcases standing at attention, eagerly awaiting departure. Perhaps she saw something in my eyes, perhaps not, but she released me from her controlling gaze and reached for the pearls that had so disdainfully been discarded. I slumped with relief from the steely eyes that saw my plans of betrayal and dismissed them as frivolous.

"A bottle of Sauterne to celebrate your wedding tomorrow," her words clearly challenging me to correct her, to divulge my plans of escape. My eyes bore holes into the floor as my mouth uttered the treasonous words, "I won't marry him." The silence that descended was frigidly intense.

"You won't do this Daisy," mothers voice left no room for misinterpretation; the threat of harsh consequences for defiance was very clear.

"I can mother. I shall," yet my quivering voice failed to register the finality I had hoped my words would carry.

"No Daisy, you are only a woman and it is beyond your capacity to determine these matters. Tom is the smart choice; he will provide you with wealth, a family, he will care for you and he will make our family proud. Can the boy you wish to run off with provide that security?" Like an eagle stalking its prey, she landed her killing blow, "We are only women! Daisy you realise this; any choice we make must be backed by a man. It is how this society runs and in this world Tom is the best thing that could happen to you!" She held the pearls up around my neck watching me with sharp eyes. My silent pleas ignored, cold fingers brushed against my neck as she worked to redo the clasp. "Women are made only to be beautiful accessories that contribute little to the power within this society. That is the best we can hope for!" As the clasp clicked on my pearled shackle, I knew that my dreams of love were to be forever condemned to youthful fancy. Mother's hands held my shoulders firm, one hand reaching up to wipe a tear that ran forlornly down my cheek. "Write to your boy and tell him goodbye, I will send Jordan up to help you fix your hair and makeup shortly," the command brusque as she pinned back one of my curls that too struggled for freedom. As her footsteps receded down the hall, my loss overwhelmed me; sobs wracked my body as my gilded restraint mocked the loss of my happiness.