Short Story 23
Updated: May 8
The Gray Face of Luck
The jeweler mounted a big pearl in the brooch. Its size was near too great for the setting, but with some finagling it managed to remain in position. There was something about it glittering there surrounded by all that silver and clear cubic zirconia that brought out the creamy glow of the opulent pearl.
Pulling a handkerchief from a trouser pocket the jeweler dabbed at his face. There was some concern that he should have used real diamonds, but that would have made the prices more than seemed reasonable to ask. Hope against hope, someone would be taken by the piece and purchase it and then finally he wouldn’t have to be burdened with it any longer.
“Mr. Malone, there’s a call for you.”
“Yes, thank you, Jenny.”
The middle-aged man adjusted his spectacles staring at the glittering creamy object beneath the suspended lamp. Misgivings about leaving it there on the table by itself caused him to pause as he stood in the doorway. Pressing his lips, he made his decision ducking out of the room. He would only be gone for a moment. Just a moment.
The pearl shimmered under the gaze of the light bulb hung so close to it. No matter how lovely the translucent stones or the sliver bound all around it, it gleamed with a bright inner light that couldn’t be matched by these ill-suited partners. It was strange to watch but the hazy light cast upon the cream surface began to change, flicker in the heart of the enormous gemstone. It bounded and took shape, within a breathless instant a tiny figure appeared to be dancing just beyond the surface. It had small arms and legs, an angular body, and a narrow head. It shimmered all over and appeared to be made of all glory and threads of light.
A chittering giggle permeated through the narrow workshop, several crackling sparks admitting from the heart of the pearl as the creature danced, sang, and laughed with buoyant glee just beyond the reaches of this world.
The tender crisp scent of burning wood was the first thing of consequence to reach the nose of Mr. Malone. The telephone fell from his hand, his body running at once to his small workshop. Flames were dancing wildly about the room. Curving and oscillating with inspired movements totally unnatural to fire. Like a work of stone, he stood in the doorway abashed as his entire supply of tools crumbled to dust under the robust hand of turning yellows, oranges, and reds.
“Mr. Malone, we have to go.”
Jenny took his arm pulling him from the doorway. The sound of the firetrucks and sirens eating into the last remnants of the working day. Charles Malone stood outside his jewelry shop as the fire ate away everything, leaving only the front of the brick facade intact, the windows fallen through like broken teeth.
There was only one thing discovered completely unharmed from the fire. A pearl of unreal size surrounded by melted silver. This was presented to Mr. Malone as well as a receipt stating the expected compensation for his destroyed business. Upon receiving this Mr. Malone got into his car and at once took a trip to the ocean.
It was a long ride and the whole way he was aware of the box in the passenger seat beside him and the object hidden inside. There was no point in pretending. The insurance company may not have known or understood what had happened, but he did. When at last he came to the asphalt parking lot just before the sandy shore he reached for the box. Removing the lid, he dumped the pearl into his hand. It fit in the center and when he closed his fingers around it, it was just visible, peeking between his fingers.
Opening the door, he stepped out barely remembering to take his keys and lock it behind him. The asphalt gave way to grass and then the grass to sand. The granules were unrelenting, smooshing beneath the hard soles of his dress shoes. Near the water’s edge he stopped, just where the grains were darkened by the water. His fingers squeezed the pearl as he looked out into the open ocean.
With tightened jaw he raised it ready to throw. The soft sound of a child crying poured from his closed hand. Hesitating he held the object in midair. Sentimentality, an illness he had suffered from before. He took several steps toward the sea as if this would fortify him. The chilling water came to his knees, carrying sand into his shoes, staining his dress slacks.
“It’s for the best,” He breathed, “It’s what’s best for both of us.”
In that moment his arm jerked, and his fingers relaxed their hold. The creamy structure of the pearl flew out toward the water. For a moment, the gleaming figure seemed visible to Mr. Malone, stretching out its tiny arms toward him, the object of its own obsession, and then ‘plunk’. The pearl hit the water a good distance from the shore sinking at once down out of sight.
For a long while he stood there, knee deep in the ocean, staring at the horizon. It was over for him now, he had just thrown his luck into the sea, but it was better this way. It was. Getting back in his car, Mr. Malone drove away without looking back, his face pallid and features sullen. He had done the right thing. He had.
Down in the water, the light filtered through to the grains of sand beneath the thick vellum of deep blue. These beams of light fell upon a pearl of undue size that was as creamy as fresh milk and shaped as though lightning had danced through it at its birth. Upon the surface of the pearl, just beneath that glistening first layer sat a small figure. This figure had legs and arms, a torso, and a slender head, all formed from dawn’s first light. It watched the water ripple above it and wondered when it should be found there in that lonely place not too far from the grasp of man.
Thank you so much for reading everyone!!
Prompt Sentence: The jeweler mounted a big pearl in the brooch.
Word Count: 1029
Special thanks to LuckAlex Turcu from Unsplash for the use of the image!
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