The next morning, Dani took the pearls off of her night table and put them on just to smile at herself wearing them again. In the morning sun that shone through her window, they looked even more spectacular. In those pearls and her pink dress, she would look almost like a princess when she went out that night; all she needed was a silver tiara and to curl her blonde hair into big ringlets, and perhaps a lace collar that the pearls could rest against. And though velour was a lovely material, her pink dress would be so much better if it was satin, with puffy bell-shaped sleeves that flared at the cuffs…
Dani jumped as if she had touched a hot coal. Her fantasy was interrupted when she realized that it was not a fantasy at all, but the image in the mirror! Her reflection had twisted into the image she was sure she had only been picturing in her mind: silver crown, long blonde ringlets, pink satin dress, and the pearls. The face had changed from Dani’s own face into a sweet, delicate face like that of a porcelain doll. Dani had been smiling until now, but the face in the mirror was frowning.
“Give me back my pearls!” a shrill voice uttered. “Give them back to me now!” Dani shrieked and ran into the hallway. I’m dreaming, she thought, her heart pounding rapidly. Or else I’m still so tired that I’m seeing things! Hesitantly, she crept back into the room. She blinked a few times, rubbed her eyes, and approached the mirror. Her heart was still pounding, and the thought of seeing that face again terrified her, even if it was a pretty face. But it was only her own plain face looking at her from the mirror, with the pearls resting over her owl-printed pajama top. Dani took off the pearls and set them on her night table, then went back to bed, sure that the whole thing had been a tired hallucination.
Dani left the pearls alone until that evening, when she went out to the bar to show them off. She had forgotten all about what had happened with the mirror that morning, and she was admiring the look of the pearls with her pink dress, sapphire drop earrings, and Grecian hair updo, when her reflection began to twist and she found herself looking back at the frowning princess’ face. She yelped and ran away, and decided that her experience from the morning had caused her already quite active imagination to run away with her.
At the bar, Dani took her usual seat, which always allowed her to be seen by the most eyes, and greeted the bartender: “Hi, James!”
“Hey there, Dani,” James replied with a friendly, familiar smile. “What will it be tonight?”
“A watered down appletini for now,” said Dani. Then she flashed a smile of her own and asked, “Don’t you notice anything different about me?”
“When somebody asks me that,” said James, “it usually means one of two things: a tattoo or a piercing, sometimes both. Which one are you hiding?”
“Neither,” said Dani. “Here’s a hint, though: take a look at my neck area.”
“Oh, so you’re hiding a love bite.”
“James!” Dani hid her face in embarrassment as her bar company howled with laughter, but she was secretly pleased by the idea of using the pearls to hide a love bite. “No, James, I have a new pearl necklace! That’s what I’m getting at here!”
James shrugged. “Dani, you coming in here with some fancy new jewelry is nothing new.”
“I’ve never shown up in anything like this!”
“It doesn’t look any different from the stuff you wear all the time,” said a friend of Dani’s, who was sitting across from her at the bar.
“Yes it does!” Dani insisted. “I have never owned anything as nice as these pearls!” Her friend shrugged and turned to face the TV on the wall.
Dani was livid. It was true that her finery didn’t usually command too much attention from her bar company, but she had expected the pearls to be an exception, and was mortally offended when they were not. These were the most splendid pearls that any of them would ever see in their lifetimes. She had expected stares, gazes, for all eyes to be on her and her pearls. She sipped at her appletini and figured that eventually at least one person (but hopefully more) would gawk at her pearls and ask where she got them—to which she would answer, “Oh, they were made especially for me.” She lapsed into small talk with the bartender and other bar-goers as she started to realize that it wasn’t going to happen. By the time she finished off two watered down appletinis and half of a cheese-and-vegetable panini, and still no one had said anything about the pearls, she felt that this outing had been a complete waste.
When Dani returned home that night, she took a look at herself in the mirror just to make sure she was still as beautiful as she thought she was. But instead of her own face, there was the frowning princess, who was wrinkling her nose in anger. Dani gasped and took a step back.
“Give me my pearls!” cried the frowning princess. “They are mine, and you have no right to keep them!”
Dani was forced to admit that this was real, but she was not at all willing to give up the beautiful pearl necklace that she had found through good luck. “Well, I would give them to you,” she said sarcastically, “but there’s something in the way! Sorry about that!” She laughed and gave the mirror glass a taunting smack, then she set the pearls on her night table before getting ready for bed.