Wednesday, January 4, 2012


She stared intently into her hand. It was there, rolling smoothly amidst the sand granules and the little bit of muscular flesh that had been the oyster. She dropped the flesh into the bowl before her and rinsed her hand careful not to let the pearl drop into the sink to be lost forever.
She believed in signs, little communications that she was on the right path, security in insecure situations. Was this such a sign? It had been so hard lately, and yet this little pearl seemed to be telling her differently. It gleamed up from her wet palm with such clarity. She grasped it between her thumb and forefinger, turning it ever so slightly. She could feel the natural lumpiness of it, though it looked almost perfect.

Pearls were created by foreign objects that penetrated the oyster. It would react in such a way as to secrete a coating, transforming the intruder into something not so irritating and harmful to its soft fleshy existence. The coating that surrounded the offender would build, layer upon layer, until it created something beautiful in its functionality. It was there to protect the creature from harm and yet it became such an object of beauty, sought after by divers all over the world. Pearls of this size and beauty were rare.

She returned the pearl to her palm and rubbed it softly with the kitchen towel she had tucked in the waist band of her shorts. Her life had been like that lately. Irritants, hurts, betrayals - things she wished she could have protected herself from. It was the very reason she was here, alone in this cottage by the sea. She looked out from the quaint thatched porch to catch the last of the sun sinking below the surf.

Setting the pearl on the counter top, she turned to pour herself another glass of wine. She sighed audibly into the empty cottage. She could feel her shoulders relax, returning to their normal setting by her sides instead of posing as poorly positioned earrings. She padded barefoot into the open air living area, slipping the pearl into her shorts pocket as she passed.

It should have been her honeymoon, this trip by the sea. He had seen to that, she snorted derisively. She sank into the soft sofa, worn with years of use and salt sea air. She fished the pearl from her pocket. A wry little smile crept to her lips. He had been her intruder. She had tried to cover him with pearlescent goo, softening his rough edges, making him more palatable and less abrasive. It hadn't worked. In the end, his escapades and dishonesty had caught up to her. She couldn't ignore his callousness any longer. He had been expelled with a violence and energy she hadn't thought she had. Taking a long draught on her wine, she hoped he was still explaining the black eye.

She rolled the pearl along the wooden arm of the couch. She had learned many lessons at his hand. She had learned about herself. She wasn't the simp she always imagined herself to be. She was strong. She deserved better. If she hadn't had him in her life, would she have known that? Would she have realized he wasn't what she wanted? Doubtful, she thought, taking another sip from the glass. Life was like that... It took the bad to realize how great the good was. It takes the irritants to relish the easy.

Days later, as she boarded her flight back to reality, her hand went instinctively to her throat. It was still there. She smiled at her cleverness.

That night, after finding the pearl and the better part of a bottle of wine, she had walked out to the surf's edge. The moon was large and bright, lighting the surface of the water as it rolled in and out, bubbling around her ankles. The ring in her hand was worth some change. She had taken it off weeks ago, but hadn't found the courage to let it go. She would find a dealer, she'd reasoned, sell it and put the money away. Now, in the warm darkness, surf tickling at her feet, she spun it aimlessly on the tip of her index finger. The pearl was in her pocket and it whispered to her quietly. With a peace she hadn't felt in months, she chucked that diamond far away. She could hear the soft ker-plunk as it hit somewhere in front of her, dropping into the ocean with finality. There would be no more tears over it, she laughed softly as her hand found the pearl once more sitting warm against her body. It was cathartic to say the least and that night she slept better than she had in a long time.

She had the pearl drilled and strung on a tiny gold chain. The lone souvenir from her trip, it hung around her neck, resting snugly in the tanned divot of her collar bones. It would remind her. Without the abrasiveness of the intrusion the pearl would never have existed. There had to be sacrifice and hurt. Ultimately, beauty created is forged from pain. She would touch that pearl and know who she was, know she was strong, know she was capable. She would change the hurt into something beautiful. She didn't know what it would ultimately be as yet, the coating was still young and formless. But she knew, like the pearl, it would continue to grow and turn. It would be gorgeous someday, unrecognizable.

Written content Copyright: S.A. Brown