The day after Austin gets promoted to manager, he asks me to visit him at the store, late. He lands on the word late, as if I could come to the mall in the afternoon while a few customers pore over an array of cubic zirconia on the flashy tiara heads of wedding rings. I’ve been living in this town since Brilliance took down the two family-owned jewelers years back, so distant a memory that I can only faintly remember shopping for Joe before he called off what he’d previously referred to as our super-secret gay wedding to stay with his wife, a gold-edged two-week period of my life I am still chasing here now, well over a decade later, with 23-year-old septum-pierced Austin, who believes in the permanence of a love that will sit in its glass case and glisten after midnight—when the local high school principal finally makes an appearance at his request and sits above the real valuables, the stuff no one ever really gets to try on.
“We just got these in,” Austin says. He lifts two comically long chandelier earrings, holds them to each ear. “I think they suit me.”
“Definitely a look. I like these,” I say, pointing down to a bowl of silver chains.
“Oh those seem good,” Austin says. “But they’re two tone. Half is crap.”