Parting Words This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 25, 2017
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In a past life, the pearls were her chains, choking her constantly.  She rarely saw them anymore, but occasionally she would catch a glimpse of them around the neck of a visiting socialite or foreign dignitary.  A dutiful line of marching soldiers, perfectly identical and identically perfect.  Those pearls were obedient in a way she was never able to be, so they were her enemy.  Moreover, the sight of pearls triggered an uncontrollable chain reaction, and she stumbled back into the tangles of the past. 
She’d grown up royalty, disgustingly, obscenely wealthy in the way that only Americans could be.  Her childhood was spent training for the clear future that lie ahead.  The only toy she had ever received was a porcelain doll, passed down by the women of her family, and even that was a lesson, or perhaps a role model.  The doll had previously been her mother’s, and in turn, the girl would be her mother’s doll.  Mother loved to clothe her in fine gowns, brush her hair until it shone, and put her away like a discarded toy when she showed any symptoms of being alive.  Clearly, Mother was never good at playing with dolls. 
Similarly, the manor was eerily silent in the way that no dollhouse should be.  Sometimes, she wished Mother and Father would tear open their jaws and scream with the anger of the last twenty seven years, as if they were volcanos finally exploding after years of boiling from within.  However, they laid dormant, too occupied with their own frivolous lives and too ignorant to ponder what a real marriage was.  The quiet was peaceful, but the silence was agonizing. Their apathetic nothingness tore at her eardrums and shattered every cell. 
She had spent too many years playing the perfect daughter.  When she met him, it was all a secret gust of wind, bringing her the sweet smell of spring.  Soon, the sugary danger of disobedience deepened into a tangible relationship that could not be poisoned by the toxicity of unstated malice.  They loved eachother, so they yelled and cried and cursed.  Yet, in the end, they always came back to whisper sweeter truths and dance in the moonlight.  Together, they were better. 
Thus, she knew it was time to tell Mother and Father.  What had once been her pretty, secret plaything had become her tangible altar.  She would pray for lenience and beg forgiveness from them.  Although she would never admit it, she hoped that the last twenty three years had been a facade and that they would accept her.  She knew this was nothing but a merciless fantasy, so she prepared for the anger that would sweep over the crystal-coated dining table like a rogue wave. 
She expected the tantrum of a child losing her doll.  She foresaw blood red faces, eyes turned black with malice.  The candelabras would meet the floor, the stained glass doors slamming so decisively that they shattered and shelves of silverware crashing around them like raindrops, or tears.  And there would be lightning and thunder as the sky split open and the guts of the heavens fell from above.  There would be everything, because she was their only daughter, and she was committing the ultimate sin by leaving.  Didn’t she deserve screaming and crying and pleading?
However, to them, she was not worthy. Wordlessly, she was shown the door, without even a glimmer of a scorn to speak to her.  Just her life with them began, it ended in silence. 
Years later, the dressmaker was encouraging her to wear pearls.  The girl, who was still young despite the passing time, heard fragments of the voice, saying how the pearls would add the class that the simple gown lacked.  As she paid for them, she did not have the heart to tell the dressmaker that pearls would not belong in an empty church, void of flowers, people, or the belief that this would be any better. 
The pair had once been hopeful, filled with the young love that defied familial beliefs.  But time had passed, and the beautiful eternity that had once stretched before them was gone; now, even a second longer with him seemed too long.  The concept of forever haunted her, because she knew that time would steal the words from her lips and from his lips, and soon they would descend into the darkness of the silence.  She could already see their collapse beginning.  All of the greats, from Rome to Greece, had disintegrated, and they would too.  Unlike how she fell dramatically into love, she slipped out of it, quietly, as not to wake him.  She knew that later he would find the wedding dress and a broken strand of pearls discarded on the floor in their room.  But for now, she was silent, leaving with the melody of the words left unspoken.






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