Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Pearls, part 3

The next day was Sunday. Dani decided not to wear, touch, or even think too much about the pearls until tomorrow, when she would wear them to work. There they sat on her night table, and their gleam in the morning sun was not at all as pleasant as it had been the day before—looking at them made Dani think of the frowning princess and her cry of, “Give me my pearls!” She could almost see the princess’ frowning face in the largest pearl.
            Dani avoided looking at mirrors. She chose to wear an old t-shirt and tattered old shorts so she wouldn’t have a reason to look at herself. She took a breakfast muffin from the bread box and made herself comfortable on the living room sofa with a book. She rested her feet on the arm of the sofa, nibbled at her muffin, and realized that she wasn’t taking in a word of what she was reading. The princess’ shrill little voice blocked out her thoughts so that she couldn’t concentrate—“Give me my pearls!” She closed the book and growled in frustration. Is she a ghost? Dani wondered. Is she haunting me? She hadn’t seemed very much like a ghost. She was more like a fairy. Dani was angry for having to think about her at all. “They’re my pearls now,” she said to the air out in front of her, “and you are very irresponsible for losing them!”  She returned to her book, hoping that would be the end of it. But sure enough, that shrill voice made its way back into her mind to say, “Being irresponsible is not as bad as being a dishonest thief!”
            “I’m not a thief,” Dani said aloud. “I didn’t come into your house and take them from you. You carelessly dropped them and you didn’t bother to come back for them. Clearly, I know how to take better care of them than you do, and so I deserve them more!” Dani knew that what she said was wrong, but she would rather be wrong than have to give up the finest jewelry she had ever owned. “I refuse to continue this argument,” Dani said before the voice could have a chance to say anything else. She couldn’t go on reading; she had been interrupted enough times to have gotten bored of reading. She decided that she wanted to go to her room and play with her jewelry and makeup, before she remembered that she would have to look in the mirror for that. More than anything, Dani did not want to look in the mirror. She knew what she would see.
            It was the beginning of May, and the day was warm and bright. It was a good time to begin working on a golden summer suntan. Dani went outside and began moving her lawn chair to the sunniest spot she could see…
            “Thief! Scoundrel!
            Dani ignored the voice. She smiled satisfactorily at the patch of sun she had placed her lawn chair in. She took off her shoes, sat down, and stretched out her legs…
            “Wretched scum!
            She covered her ears, but what good was that when the voice was inside her head? She shook her head as if trying to shake it from her mind.
            “Villain! Devil! Trash!
            Dani groaned, pulled at her hair, and smacked her head. Still, the voice continued to shout every name and horrible insult it could come up with. She couldn’t find any peace. She didn’t want to tan, and the day was no longer pleasant. Suddenly, she hated those pearls. As beautiful as they were, she didn’t want them anymore if they were going to cause so much trouble.
            Dani stomped back inside, slamming the door hard enough to rattle the picture frames on the wall and the knickknacks on the shelves. The voice in her head subsided as she headed for her room, and ceased completely as she eyed the pearls lying on her night table. But the moment she laid eyes on them, she realized that she had been mistaken; she couldn’t give them up, not to anyone, for any reason. They were hers, and their beauty would be tarnished if they were worn by anyone but her. She had looked like a real princess at the bar last night—nobody had noticed, but she had. She had to keep them for work the next day. She would wear them with her blue satin dress and rose-printed tights.
         Dani went to her jewelry box and took out a gold necklace with a pendant featuring three large ruby drops. It had been a gift from an old boyfriend of hers. She approached the mirror, placed the necklace in front of it, and said, “I am keeping the pearls, but you can have this necklace. Rubies are much showier than pearls anyway.” She knew that no ruby could be more splendid than those pearls, but still she hoped that the princess would accept the gift and give her some peace. 

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