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Blood Ruby

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Blood Ruby

Post by Julianna on 8/28/2009, 12:46 am

Everyone wanted to look pretty, to stand out in the crowd. Part of the "beauty process" was jewelry. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds: the four precious stones that cannot be left out. Can you resist the sparkling diamonds? Or the dazzle rubies? Probably not. They are so hard to reject. Their charm surely possessed many people, men and women alike. Of course you must have dream about owning some. But at times, and at specific circumstances, it's quite hard to do. To the rich, it's no big deal. They can afford pretty much a whole chain of jewelry stores if they want to. Unfortunately for commoners like us, it's not that easy because we have other things that we need to use money for. Bills, or maybe even debts. Now, a majority of us know how to buy a diamond ring or a ruby necklace, but do you know how they got into the stores in the first place? I bet you've heard of the diamond mines in Africa, or the famous ruby mines in Burma. And hopefully, you know the harsh conditions at the mines?

The following story is nothing extraordinary in nature. It's just another story that life has to offer. Another memory to be remembered in our hearts. Another lesson to learn and understand. And of course, connected to everything I've said earlier....

It all started on one rainy afternoon at an abandoned coal mine. . .

A skinny child ran around the muddy ground, splashing water at every step she took. The pouring rain made everything even messier. The child didn't care much about the dirt, or about her old skirt that was soaked in the brownish water. Why wasted time on that while she was having so much fun under the refreshing rain? Fun usually didn't last for long...Suddenly, a lightning cracked the stormy sky in halves as the thunder deafened her ears. The water was streaming down the hill a few feet to her left, causing pounds of mud to slid down. Frightened, she looked around for a hiding place. Another lightning lightened the dark atmosphere, revealed the entrance to the empty coal mine. Without second thought, the child ran through the thick curtain of rain straight into the darkness of the mine. She knelt down, a prayer escaped from her lips.

"Dear God, please watch over my family and me." Only a thunder answered her prayer. It made her retreated further into the mine. The darkness was better than the angry sky.

What was supposed to be a fun afternoon playing under the rain had turn into a real nightmare.

"Ella!! Ella!!" A desperate voice of a man was calling her name.

"Daddy? Daddy! I'm in here!" She called out.

"Ella?" The man wore a white raincoat rushed into the mine. Ella ran into his embrace.

"Daddy, I'm sorry....I was just playing...and..." She tried her best to explain.

"It's OK, honey. As long as you're fine, everything else doesn't matter," her father said softly. His words had a firing effect that warmed her up right away. "Now, let's go home." He took out a yellow raincoat from his bag and put it on Ella. He then took her hand and led her into the rain.

Before they could advance any further than a few feet, Ella stopped short on her track. "Daddy, look!" She pointed at the mud.

"What is it, honey?" He asked.

"It's red, daddy, look there!" She pulled her dad to where she was pointing at.

The man bent down to look closely at the reddish object half buried in the mud. "Oh my God!" He whispered. Then, he used his hands to scoop the mud away, hoping to get that reddish stone. If it really what he thought, then this storm was a real blessing to his family.

"It's...It's a ruby! A blood red ruby!!!" He said happily. "Ella, we're going to be rich! This mine must have rubies, lots of it!!!!!!"

"Ruby? What is it, daddy?" Ella, tried to use her five year old mind to understand what could make her dad so happy.

"It's ruby, Ella. We will be rich!" Her father picked her up and ran all the way back to their house. He showed his wife what he'd found. He was certain that it was ruby because his family once owned a series of jewelry stores. He had grown up with everything considered precious. It was their golden era. Now, after a terrible economic downtime, all he had was an old house that could collapse anytime and an underpaid job. This finding could provide him with more than enough money to support his family.

The storm went on its destroying spree while the family celebrated a new future.

Or not?

.....................................................................................


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Julianna

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Continued

Post by Julianna on 8/28/2009, 12:50 am

Eighteen years had gone by since that stormy night. That old coal mine was now the first ruby mine in Taiwan. It produced millions dollars worth of rubies each month. Despite that fact, the workers were sill underpaid and the standards, though had meet all of the requirements set up by the government, still almost unbearable. Why so? Simple, the owner kept it all. The riches stuck on the top few. While the ones at the bottom of the pyramid had to suffer.

"Ella, don't go to the mine anymore. Stay home with your mother. She needs you to take care of her," Ella's father told her one morning when he was about to head to work. His once well-built frame was now nothing more than a skeleton with only skin attached. Sounded horrible, yes. Their lives were much worse. There was never enough of anything in the house. There was no electronics, no air conditioner, not even a TV. but wait, why would they need a TV? They didn't need to listen to the weather forecast or the 12 o'clock news. It wouldn't make much difference whether it would rain or not. Frankly because their house was already torn down so much that they could almost see the sky through the roof, so why bother? Of course weather was the least of their problems.

"But I want to work! At least I can earn a little more . . ." She protested. What else was there to do? In this small town, jobs were rare. Ever since the ruby mine was discovered, it acted like a job magnet. Everyone tried to get something to do. It became known as Ruby's town. A perfect name to describe such place.

"No, Ella, listen to me, I want you to stay home with your mother. She's sick. Take good care of her," her father insisted.

"Angela can do that!" Ella pointed at her spoiled younger sister. Angela hadn't move a finger since the day she was born. Though their family wasn't rich, her parents treated Angela specially because of her constant illness. She was the precious living ruby of the family. "I can go with you to the mine!"

"Ella!" Her father's voice became deeper, indicating that he was becoming angrier with his daughter's stubbornness.

"What? You can't blame me for wanting to make more money! Our family is the poorest in town!" Ella stood up and spat out the painful truth. "I've never understand why you refused to claim the rights to that mine. After all, you were the one who discovered it!"


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Continued

Post by Julianna on 8/28/2009, 12:51 am

"Don't you dare mention that again!" He slammed his hands onto the crooked table beside him. The sound silenced Ella. Every time she mentioned the mine's rightful owner, he got mad. Why? Ella had no clue.

"Stay here!" He ordered. This time, Ella dare not move an inch. He rushed out of the doorway with his jacket and hat in hands. She sighed heavily. There went a day worth of salary. Though it wasn't much, it would have be of some help. To her, every penny counted.

"I don't understand why you always have to do something," Angela asked her older sister. "Why can't you just sit still and . . ."

"And wait for gold to fall down from the sky?" Ella finished the sentence with a sarcastic laugh. "If so, then you can sit there in vain! I will try to do something productive, and realistic!"

"What has gotten into you lately?" Angela sat down on a chair and asked. She didn't get a clue about how desperately in need of money her family was. Nor did she ever care about anything except for herself. She loved to go out with her rich friends to taste the upper class life. They let her be friends because of her good looks. Angela got big and round eyes. Her long, curly hair hugged her soft shoulders. She looked perfect from every angle, which was why she caught the attention of many money-wasters. Angela understood how embarrassed it would be if she let them see her family, and how uncomfortable for her family to meet her friends. She hid everything. Not for once did she tell her parents or her sister about where she went, or who she hangs out with. All the "good stuffs" she got from her "worshipers", Angela kept them for herself. She hid them well. No one in her family noticed any difference on her except for the old self-conscious Angela. They should have see her in a nightclub in the city, or maybe at a party. Only then they could see who Angela really was.

"What has gotten into me?" Ella repeated the question, not in a happy way, of course. "Well, there's no money, there's nothing! Nothing! It's what bothers me! If we left the main door open, the thieves wouldn't even care to take a look! And you! You haven't done a thing. You can't cook. Can't go to work. Can't do anything to help. All you do is go to the city and have fun there with God knows who! Do you even care about our family? You're all grown up, you should be more responsible to those around you!" She felt like a bit of the weight sat in her heart had disappeared. Ella did try to keep those words inside her head for years. Now, they overflow and poured out from her mouth. She didn't regret saying them though.

"What? I am not like that! I do care about our family! You . . .You!" Angela was at a loss of words. Well, what could she say? She was at fault from the beginning.

"What's going on?" Their mother slowly walked into the living room. Their loud voices and harsh words woke her up from her nightmare, but then, into another one more real. Which one was worse? Her own fearful nightmare in her sleep? Or the nightmare of reality she would face when she opened her eyes every morning, like today.

"Mom!" Ella immediately came to her mother's aid. "You should go back inside. You're sick."

"You know I'm sick, yet you two are still arguing!" She wiped Ella's hands off of her arm. "You two are sisters. Sisters don't argue. They stick together!"

"Mommy, but she . . ." Angela was about to repeat what Ella told her earlier in an attempt to blame everything on her sister instead.

"I've heard everything you two said," her mother stopped Angela in the middle of her sentence. "Ella, I know you're worry about our financial burden, but your father and I can handle it. Don't worry, OK? Just go out and try to have some fun with your friends. I don't want to see my two precious daughters working at that dirty mine."

"But mom!" Ella whined. She couldn't just do nothing and watch her parents working so hard and earn so little.

"Ella, you need to go out often. Go to the city and have fun. I know you haven't been to the city before. Let your father and I take care of the house, OK?" Her mom said reassuringly.

"No . . ." Ella shook her head.

"I want to get back to bed. I'm tired . . .You two go out and have fun. Today is a nice day. Don't waste it," she said to the girls and walked back into her room. She refused to let Ella help her.

"Ella, you heard mommy, I only did what she told us," Angela said triumphantly. She then ran out the door, didn't forget to give her sister a smirk.

Ella let herself dropped into a chair. She did not want to have fun. What fun could do to help her family anyway? It would only be a waste of time. She looked out the window. The only thing she agreed with her mother was the weather. It was very nice outside.The sun was high above the trees. Many little birds were dancing and singing among the branches. Ella started wishing she was one of those birds. Only so she could freely fly in the blue sky with no troubles, no worries at all.

Then . . . It dawned on her.

Her fingers subconsciously touched the necklace hiding under her t-shirt's neckline. A silver necklace decorated with a red, heart-shaped ruby. It was the only valuable object her family owned. That ruby was the first one of its kind to be found in Taiwan. In other words, it was the setting stone of the ruby mine in her town. Her father made it into a necklace and gave it to Ella. He said it was destined to be hers. So here it was, hanging aimlessly from her neck.

She would sell it. It would worth enough money to pay off half of their debts.

But if her father found out . . .

He wouldn't be able to yell for long if their family have nothing to fill their stomachs!

Ella stood up determinedly. That ruby would worth more to her if she could sell it.

A few minutes later, she was on the street, running toward the only jewelry store in town. She couldn't let her father see her, or else her plan would be ruined. Ella looked around cautiously. Her heart started racing rapidly. She wondered if she would regret it later on. Anyhow, she found her way into town and headed to Infinity Jewelry store.

The bell clinked as Ella pushed the door opened. A lady in dark blue uniform looked up, a hint of disgust sparkled in her eyes the moment she saw Ella's poor appearance.

"How can I help you?" She said sweetly, but her eyes, obviously told a different story.

"Uhm . . . I want . . . I," Ella stuttered. She started to hesitated. Should she or shouldn't she sell her family's most treasured possession ?

Just at that very moment, someone caught Ella's attention, "Angela? What are you doing here?" Ella was also surprise to see her sister here. She couldn't possibly buy anything.

"Ella? Uhm. . . I'm here with my friends," Angela answered forcefully. She eyed her older sister suspiciously. Her keen eyes spotted the sparkling gem sneaked out from Ella's neckline. She found a good topic to mislead her sister. "Don't tell me that you're going to sell that necklace!"

"What? NO! Of course not . . . " Ella put the lie up immediately.

"Then why are you here?" It was the lady's turn to ask Ella. She didn't look too happy waiting.

"Oh, nothing! I'm just passing by . . . and . . ." Ella was searching in her mind for a believable excuse. She found nothing. As the last resort, she said, "I'm sorry for wasting your time. I should go." Ella turned and walked as fast and as normal as she could out the door without a second glance at her sister.

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Continued

Post by Julianna on 8/28/2009, 12:52 am

"Oh my, that was close," Ella sighed in relief when she believed she was far enough from the jewelry store. "But why on earth is that girl doing there? What kind of friends does she have?" Now that she thought about it, was Angela wearing a different dress than the one she put on at home? Angela sure had something up her sleeves. And so was Ella. But it was no time to worry about what Angela was wearing, or who she hang out with. What bothered Ella the most at this moment was the debts that piled up over the year. If Angela wasn't there, she could have sell the ruby necklace and have some money by now. It would help somewhat. It was no use blaming on anyone or anything . . .She needed a different plan. Maybe she would come back when Angela was long gone. Maybe . . .

Ella soon found out that her feet had unconsciously taken her to the river bank. It was the only place in this whole town that was freed from any noise or worldly worries. It was almost a paradise to her.

Sitting down on the grassy ground, she touched her precious necklace. The gemstone sparkled brilliantly under the shining sun.



“Why is nothing ever going right for me?” Ella asked herself out loud. No one would be around to eavesdrop anyway. “Dad is too stubborn to let me work at the mine, and there’s no where else has jobs to offer. AHHHH! Why? Why is this world so cruel???” She yelled and yelled; releasing the worries and anger that were hidden inside of her. When her screams had eased, Ella felt much better. Screaming and yelling were the most effective remedies for all the troubles in life. They let you unleash whatever that was hardheadedly stuck inside your mind. A warning: get some warm water ready for that sore throat afterward.


"Why didn't dad claim the right to the mine in the first place? Then we wouldn't be in this situation today!" Ella thought. Her fingers tightened into a fist as the memories engulfed her.


**FLASHBACK**


"Mommy! Mommy!" The little Ella was running up to her mother, smiling happily. "Daddy says he will buy a bicycle for me when he gets the money. Is that right? Is it really?"


"Yes, honey. Your daddy always keep his promise!" Her mother nodded as she picked Ella up. "Now, why don't you go inside and play with your sister? It's getting late."


"Yes, mommy!" Ella got off of her mother's arms and ran inside the house. She found her younger sister playing with a little doll. Ella joined in and told Angela about their father's promise. The two girls giggled at the thought of a new bicycle crossed their mind. They planned out what they would do when they get that bicycle. Where they would go, etc. . . And especially, to show off to the kids in the neighborhood. The thought of their father might not be able to keep his promise never came to them.


After just fifteen minutes of playing with the doll, Ella got tired of it. Dolls never appealed much to her. She only played with it because of her sister, Angela, who loved to play doll house and tea party. Ella got no choice but go along with those ideas, which she found boring. Putting the doll back into it's little crib, Ella stood up and headed for the living room, where her mother was waiting anxiously for her father. Angela wasn't happy to see her older sister leave.


"Ella, where are you going? I don't want to play alone!" She whined.


"I don't want to play anymore," Ella refused to return and continued her course.


Angela wasn't satisfy with the answer, but couldn't do anything about it. The choice was not up to her to make.


Ella walked into the living room to where her mother was sitting. "Mommy, will dad be home soon?"


"Yes, dear, he'll be home any moment now," her mother picked Ella up onto her laps and hugged her tightly.


Just as she said, Ella's father appeared at the doorstep moments later. He looked battered. His head was down with his shoulders crunched. It wasn't what a soon-to-be-millionaire would look like.


"Honey, what's wrong?" Ella's mother gently put Ella down and rushed to his side.


"We've lost everything...It's the Wu family who won the rights of the land. I should have know better," the cracks in his voice explained the rest.


"Well then, if they don't agree, I guess we'll have to make the best from what we have," though the words were strong, her thoughts weren't.


Ella stood still at the spot where her mother had put her, silently looking up to her parents. She sensed the trouble, which kept her from thinking about the bicycle her dad promised her.


"We'll just keep going. For the sakes of our girls," Ella heard her mother whispered.


"But..." her father insisted on the matter. The matter which Ella would never know.


"Look, I know that you're worry about our...uhm...financial problems, but we can't keep on wishing for something that would never be ours. You know Wu Hun, he's a real devil. He won't agree to our terms."
She tried to cheer her husband up, "I don't care about those rubies anymore. I wish Wu will choke on them!"


He lifted his face up. The phantom of a smile appeared.


Ella felt the atmosphere lightened. Her parents turned around and noticed her.


"Hey," she heard her dad called her. "I'm sorry honey, but I can't get you your bicycle. Not at the moment, but I'll try my best, OK?"


"It's OK, daddy," Ella tried to suppressed her tears from overflow and nodded. She understood that there must be something bothered her parents, and caused her dad to dropped his promise, something he would never do unless he had to.


"You're good girl, Ella," he hugged his daughter tightly in his strong arms. The hug that Ella could never erase from her memory. Along with it was the words her parents exchanged earlier. They posed some kind of mysteriousness that puzzled her ever since.


**END OF FLASH BACK**
-----------------------------------------------

**I'll post the next part soon!!**
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Julianna

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