The Pearl This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 31, 2012
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The ocean rumbled and shivered like a great sleeping monster. Insurmountable precipices, cold and ragged, caged in the beast. A radiant full moon, reigning from a cloudless sky, painted shimmering strokes on the restless water. The reflections illuminated the deep night and flickered across a lonely figure standing on the beach.

He was a tall man, with thin limbs and a disproportionately round belly hiding behind a silk suit. His bulging black eyes, the head that was rapidly greying out the black, and the frayed sleeves of his suit were hidden by the gentle moonlight. The man's well-worn brown work boots were symbols of his exhaustion. It was in relief that he closed his eyes and sighed away his tired bones to the sea. He
opened his palms to the subtle salty breeze.

Even as a child in a land on the opposite shore, the sea had awed him. It was with dreams born in this sea, and a brand-new luggage bag, that he had flown across to this new life. Now, the sea comforted him. Every night after work, he was a motionless apparition haunting the deserted beach. He felt shamefully romantic, thinking that his family back home in their vivid fishing village could sense him. It was time to go.

The man bent down to pick up the brown briefcase thrown carelessly on the wet sand. The exalted, promised life wasn't what he had dreamed of;the man thought. As he patted away the sand from his bag, a shining object winked at him from the displaced sand. It was as if he was standing on quicksand, bogged down in sweat and poverty with only an ever dimming view of an enticing future. Unconsciously, the man dug out the source of the glimmer.

A miniature moon lay on his calloused palm.

So white, so radiant, so perfect was it that his mind flooded with confusion. His mother's cheap plastic pearl necklace- the only pearls he had ever seen- flashed across his mind. I've never seen something so beautiful; the man thought. It's like a lottery. As he left the beach and climbed on to his car, his eyes were dazed with shocked elation, drawing a mocking stare from the man parking besides him in the deep dungenous basement.

That night, as he lay on the mercifully cool but sweaty floor, he did not lose sleep ruminating over his hungry stomach or nostalgic thoughts of his far away mother, but of the possibilities of the pearl clutched in his hand. As a fat pregnant cockroach crawled over the leg of his chair, he thought, the first thing to buy is a bug spray- not from the dollar store. Something that works, once and for all. Wiping away a trickle of sweat from his neck, he envisioned the cool whir of an air conditioner. When his stomach growled, he thought happily, no more frozen dinners. When dawn came and he dressed in his ratty grey suit, he decided it was time he bought some clothes, instead of checking bulletin boards for church donations.

He swathed the pearl in a tissue and placed it in the case that held his eyeglasses. As he emerged from the dark garage to be greeted by a breathtaking sunrise, as beautiful as the ones he had seen in his youth, he imagined how glad his mother will be to get something from him, to know that he is doing well. But of course, to afford all this, he would need another job. Something that pays better. Maybe he should move out of his apartment. Buy a cheap condominium in the city, where everyone goes to find jobs. He felt embarrassed at these lofty dreams, racing beyond control, but one look at the pearl which was now somehow brighter than ever, restored his confident rambling. Dreaming is harmless, anyways.

“Mama's boy! You still sleeping?” Whispers mimicked his accent. But the man was oblivious to all this, for as he lifted one heavy box after the other, in his ears was not the sound of droning machinery, but the colourful noise and bustle of his home town when he walked down the street to the small house where his mother lived. Someone, his mother, opened the door- and- just before he could see her, someone tapped his shoulder.

It was his boss, wondering whether the heat had got to him. Glancing at the clock- it was five o'clock already, the man took the day off. He would be paid six hours less, but what's six hours after this errand? All the way there he rolled the pearl in his hand, as if it would disappear any second. As the car drove closer and closer to “Shine with Joaquin Jewellers Inc.” his heart painfully thudded against his ribs, although deep down, he was certain that the jewel in his palm was extraordinary.
Sitting on a plush red chair in the waiting room, the man imagined his new life just minutes away. When his name was strangled out by the receptionist, he was not anxious, on the contrary, he felt like an Olympic medallist. While talking, he was imagining telling his grand rags-to-riches story, almost a fairy tale, to his proud mother in her dark house.

Finally, the man lovingly slid his pearl on to the jeweller's hand. His heart stopped breathing. His throat flapped closed. His bulging eyes shone with anticipation. The jeweller, in his excruciatingly slow manner, held the magnificent pearl to the light. A strange expression flickered across his face.

He glanced at the man's name with the same odd expression, and smiling, said: “Mr. P- this pearl of yours, is not a pearl. Only a pretty stone.” It took the man a few seconds to understand. Sky-high dreams crashed down around him.

A dark tunnel caved around his life, and the ache in his muscles was multiplied. He stood before the great black ocean- the source of all his troubles. When the man looked at the pearl again, furious and unwilling tears leaking from his eyes, its shine had disappeared and ugly blemishes leaped out. He flexed his arms, ready to throw the stone in to the farthest of the ocean depths. Suddenly, the sun set over a burning sky. His mother would love the pearl anyways, he thought.





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loshan said...
Aug. 11, 2012 at 6:55 am
very well written
 
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