When he was seven years old, Jimmy tried to make perfume for her. It was a rousing failure, naturally -- despite its luscious appeal on toast, jam didn't keep nearly so well on skin -- but Gillian wrapped the tiny bottle in silk and tucked it a drawer at work, until the theater ants got into it.
The next year, a penny pot of rouge; the next year, black stockings and dried rose petals dipped in proper perfume. And then, the year after, Jimmy learned that sons didn't give mothers these kinds of things, even on Christmas.
The loss of the necklace itself when Jimmy stole it back didn't bother Gillian so much, all jewelry being a variation of the same glorified dog collar. What she missed most was the heaviness of the item, how the jewels pressed onto her clavicle and left grooves in her skin in the morning.
Tommy makes her little cards, sometimes, and it's sweet, but she can't help but stack her grandson against her son and find the former wanting. Tommy doesn't possess that special combination of hunger and intelligence that Jimmy had at that age, and she blames Angela.
("She's sensitive," Jimmy said, often.)
("No, she's weak," Gillian said, once. "It's subtle for women, but one day you'll learn to tell the difference.")
When Jimmy returned from Chicago, he brought a box, sans wrapping, to her doorstop. She lifted the lid and pulled out a wool coat, black, long. Stepping to her bedroom mirror for a better look, she gauged it to about a third of the value of the necklace (this she calculated like breathing, without judgment), and slid it on over her gold dress. No fur trim, no flash, not even in the buttons.
"How respectable," she teased, looking at Jimmy over her shoulder in the glass. "You'll have me as a matron in no time."
"It's actually a dark, dark blue," Jimmy said, his hand to her shoulder, thumbing the high collar. "For when you get off work. I just couldn't stand the idea of you being cold every night."
"Aren't you considerate," Gillian said, turning around, and if a part of her son was embarrassed kissing her like this, a part of him wasn't.