Brittle beauty

Here’s my piece for the other week’s Ermilia Blog’s Picture It! and Write photo prompts. I hope you like it.


I sat cross legged on the comfy old couch, the still resilient cushions sag a little under the memories of the worries and joys it’s past owners had confided in its warm welcoming embrace. Perhaps mine will be added to the burden of the emotions it so silently carries without much complaint. What I felt now, as I curl up with my knees held tightly to my chest, was hurt mixed with confusion and betrayal. I had to get past this. I can’t ignore it any longer, because if I want to put this nightmare behind be I have to face it. I rocked back and forth a few times before I made up my mind completely, unfolded myself and reached under the couch, feeling around for the pouch I hid in the upholstery.

My had returned with a plain looking leather scroll purse, nothing special about it other than it had to be unrolled. My fingers ran over the spots where it began to peel, released the clasp and watched it unfurl. I unzipped the zipper that ran along its length, my hands were shaking as I eyed my progress like if its contents would sprout poisonous fangs … it came close. My breath caught as it always had when the black pure velvet lining reveals itself, with the small sparkly diamonds cascading until they come rest silently. Arrogantly. Beautifully. Coldly.

They stand out like a bunch of black roses in a field of dandelions, out of place in my modest apartment. These diamonds are a reminder of my past, a dark shadow that hangs over my head ready to suck me into itself. A past dominated by a perfect wife rather than a decent mother, and a father whose absence seems to grow and keep on growing, and someday I believe that he won’t be there anymore. A past filled with nannies, foreign travels, extravagant balls and proper, prim, prissy and down right snobby society. Someone who wouldn’t know much about me would wonder why am I even complaining, with the size of my inheritance I should be set for a fabulous breezy life. That I’m just another spoiled rich kid who can’t appreciate what I have. Everything about that assumption would be incorrect.

With what expectations I’m supposed to live up to I have a lot to complain about. Life can never be truly easy-breezy and the notion that money can make it so is just stupid – well I concede it’s convenient – an illusion stubbornly butting heads with reality that glares full on. I might have grown up a privileged child but I didn’t let that cloud my vision because the prettiest doll, or the loveliest dresses and the best of what-have-you couldn’t have substituted the attentions I craved from my parents. Those things were temporary diversions, in the moment, not the constant I wanted in my life. I moved away from that life, painfully discarded the fine business education that could have been better spent, gave it up to embrace my calling as a high school English teacher, an unacceptable occupation for an ‘aristocrat’ but that makes me even happier.

I run my fingers through the pretty stones, hard under my touch and remember that fiasco just two nights ago. My birthday. My mother had called me herself, not her personal pet assistant, her voice was strangely void of her usual clipped distance and literally tearfully begged me to come back, at least to celebrate my day with them, my father regretted not being there for me all those years and he’s heart broken. That was, by far, the unlikeliest, weirdest and the most frightening phone call I had in my entire life. I believed the bit about dad, he cared me but he was too caught up in the mess his cousin put the family business in, but her feeling sorry? Her crying? This was interesting, something must be up. My curiosity and longing both won me over.


It was a spectacular affair, dressed in a beautiful long midnight blue silk dress with silly brief sleeves, I was surrounded by family, friends who still pretended to be friends and more people that I don’t even know. One of these strangers caught my eyes about ten seconds after I entered the ball room, one of those Hollywood tall dark handsome strangers but what else could be expected in this crowd? This one though, he didn’t look like he wanted to be here, my sentiments exactly because I had instantly regretted my decision when I saw so many people there.

Later that night my father gifted me these dazzling diamonds, refracting the light in a thousand rainbow pieces, he said they reminded him of me; strong and beautiful. I was happy, deliriously happy, not entirely because of the expensive stones but because of the hope was beginning to bloom inside me. He cares, perhaps he even loved me! I was ready to come back to them if this was what they really feel. Right after that, mother came up to us and beside her was Tall-dark-and-handsome! Why had my tummy gone all fluttery all of a sudden? I had to make a conscious effort to keep my face politely uninterested.

I don’t want rehash the conversation the had ensued. In short, my alleged mother and father had sweet talked me into coming to this damned party to con me into a marriage to the scion of a multimillion dollar empire. In that moment the foolish part of me that had dared to hope was squashed like a bug. Handsome’s face was cool marble as I looked to him and back to Nancy and Jason, that was who they are to me now. The silence in my head threatened to suffocate me. The only coherent thought that forced itself out of my mouth then was, “Don’t call me again. Don’t you dare try to sell me to meet your ends.” With one more glance at Handsome I turned on my heels and left. Was it relief or something else that flickered across his face? I don’t know, it shouldn’t worry me.


I forgot to return the diamonds that night, I didn’t think of it then, and right now I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be reminded by them, they are hard and uncompromising and the beauty is only a deceptive mask that hides it all so well. I was shattered, all my illusions of a happy ending crashed and burned. I hated those people, but a part of me a tiny part still felt. I punched it in the teeth right away. I was a swirl of emotions that might as well be my undoing.

These stones had a weakness, at a ridiculously low temperature and provided that there is a metal catalyst present the diamond will succumb to the chemical alteration of its lattice structure becoming its other form: brittle graphite. If I were one I have to let this all go before I break. Should I keep them? Should I get rid of them? Some things are always better spent in charity.

Diamonds be damned, but it’s a curious thing … that I can’t seem to get Handsome’s face out of my head. Damn him too.

First published on my new blog, please check it out @ Writing into the Night

A few other entries for that week:

Heartbroken (

Twinkle, Twinkle (

Requisition (

Twenty Jewels (

Picture it & Write V (


Filed under Picture it and Write!, Writing

14 responses to “Brittle beauty

  1. great play of words.. Besides the sparkle of the diamonds, You make the picture come alive with your narration. I Loved it.

  2. Very nicely done! You take us through a lot of emotional territory and you do it so adeptly.

    • Thanks, Lorna! A commenter above, James, he’d asked me a question and I should have mentioned that I learn from other writers right here on the blogosphere.
      One thing I’ve learned is that it is the emotional aspects will always appeal to people because I think we all want to find something we can relate to and even if we can’t it’s also satisfying to have felt something strongly or to some degree just from reading a personal account of something, someone or an event. That’s a part of how I see it. So it’s important to me to really get that right.
      Thank you for coming by like always 😀

  3. I realise that you’re damn very good at description! And it’s a well-thought, well-told story. The diamonds: wealth… and the obsession we humans have for it… to such an extent that parents would arrange the marriages of their children pitilessly! Great story!
    And happy new year 2013 🙂

    • Haha! Thanks, Daph. This one just came piece by piece, initially I was taken with the chemistry aspect so I built the story around it. Oh yes, it’s sad to know parents will actually do this. Wealth reduces people in some ways while increasing them in others. Thanks for your thoughts, and happy new year to you too! 😀

  4. How did you learn to write so well?

  5. Really interesting how you managed to hang all the darkness and gloom over objects that are bright and sparkly. Well done!

    I know this one part is really a comma that’s supposed to be a period, but it really caught my attention… “It was a spectacular affair, dressed in a beautiful long midnight blue silk dress with silly brief sleeves.” I just love the way that reads!

    And thanks for taking the time to mention mine!

    • Thanks, Anne! I’ve seen a good few pieces going in this direction, I wanted to look beneath to see what’s really there. It is gloomy though.

      That was supposed to be a description of her dress but now you’ve said it, it can be read as describing the party too, going both ways. I’m beyond pleased that you thought so!
      And you’re very welcome 🙂

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