Pearls

PEARLS

Caile Michelle Donaldson

Pearls.
Orbs looped on a swan neck. Parading around like she’s the most beautiful life ever lived, and she dances with the pearls shuffling around on her chest, trying to keep time.
The slowest music plays; the kind where the vocals sound like they’re covered in soft dust, the piano a velveteen antique.
Broom feet, swishing, brushing, sweeping the hardwood floor in the studio apartment.
Waiting for a lover is always the longest kind of wait.
The door becomes more exciting when finally knocked upon, but she won’t run to it; it would upset the rhythm.
Instead she sways tipsily, stroking the door handle, savoring the anticipation of this visit.
He is here.
His neck is so naked compared to hers, adorned in the milky planets, abundantly draped in strings across her throat. He runs his fingers over them.

They fall into bed, tangled in loops of the stuff.
The beads click in time to their exploration and tongues.
She debates whether or not to relinquish her jewelry to him. Holding the necklace, there’s hesitation in her eyes. She doesn’t want to give it to him, but surrenders anyway.
He arranges it around his neck, and suddenly she isn’t so reluctant about him having her prize.
He looks beautiful in the feminine garland.
The sun glances off the warm, white pearls and they swing gently back and forth on him.
They hypnotize her: gazing, gasping, watching, waiting.
The pearls look so damn good on him.
Afterward, they dress; jackets and jeans. The pearls stay on him, and she tries to subdue the wistfulness in her stare. They do look swell, swinging from his sureness. His strut shows off his prize as they peek from the folds of his collar.
Hand in hand, they walk down the sidewalk, destination unknown.

Here they are.
They enter the black gates, iron and spikes, tree branches to match.
Many beds, so many beds. So much sleeping. The fatigue is like a blanket in the air, and the two feel like they must lounge upon the crushed, yellow grass; the only way to relish the remnants of this dwindling day.
The stones that mark the places are smoothed down, as if time is an ocean, melting them down like glass globs and turning them back into what they started off as: Anonymous stones sleeping in the grass.
The writing is warped with a grubby infection of lichen, a poisonous yellow. She picks at it with anemic nails, trying to read the sum-ups and explanations on the rocks.
He remains disinterested, engrossed in other things.
The pearls.
She, however, becomes more and more intrigued by the beds of buried bodies, the stone signs that mark each parking spot.
A crow shrieks from a branch, full of impotent self-importance. He’s keeping tabs on what happens in his court. Reminding them who’s in charge.
She studies, reading of lost infants and ailing husbands, missed grandparents and wives plagued by illness. Some loved. Some poor. Some forgotten.
He loves his pearls.
She looks over at him, the careless smile upon his lips, the casual obsession in his eyes.
It is time to leave.
She goes to him. He stands, and she asks for the pearls back now. It’s time to go, and she won’t let him part with the pearls.
It’s one thing for him to wear them in front of her, display them; they are safe in her vision, under her watchful eye.
But for him to go away with them, well, that is another matter entirely.
And she tells him this, says it in monotone, to keep things inoffensive. He is resistant though, and says she should just leave them with him. He will take care of them, he says.
He says, he says, he says.
The words seep like fertilizer into the earth, and nurture the mulch buried there. Feeding the un-feedable, and wasteful? So very much.
She shakes her head and reaches for the strands.
They are mine.
But again he backs away; swats at her hand as if it were a thieving moth, come for his possessions in the night. He will not hand them over.
She grabs at them, hangs on tight, and is alarmed when he backs up, stumbles upon a gravestone, falls to the grieving ground.
The pearls seem to combust; oceanic beads popping through the air like heated corn kernels, scattering themselves in the cracks and crevices.
At the mercy of the maggots and those they feed on.
Manic hands grapple for the lost pieces.
He is dismayed, but has nothing on her; he watches her, slightly repelled at her obvious attachment to the destroyed necklace.
He leaves her there, scouring the grave of a forgotten child for her precious pearls, peeping out of the soil like pale faces of cauliflower.
She doesn’t even notice his departure.
Instead, she scoops up handfuls of the wasted trinket and holds them to her face, breathing in their sentimentality, something he had never even bothered to ask about.
And now that she has collected the beads, she saunters among aisles of the long-gone, examining each headstone, giving the corroded words another chance.
It is then that she sees the grave, bearing her own last name. A relative, perhaps.
Or then again, a perfect stranger, with a subtle common factor. Still, she feels a sense of connection, and sits at the foot of the grave as if she is in the presence of a mentor, gleaning wisdom.
As if she is listening, but there is nothing but quiet.
It is soothing, like a silent song. She looks down at her palms full of pearls. Releases them.
They roll down the grave like droplets of milk and knock against the headstone, before coming to rest in the grass.

Pearls

  • Artist
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Artist's Description

Sensual, poetic macabre love story unfolds using a pearl necklace as a centerpiece.

Tags

sensuality

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