Toads And Diamonds
by Kimberly Bea
Bess couldn’t remember the last words she spoke. She remembered the feeling—the diamond scraping her throat, the taste of the pearl passing over her tongue. Grimacing, her mother had collected the gems, and cleansed them of the bile and half-digested food coating them.
“Jewels are jewels,” she said, whenever Bess vomited them up. “No one will care where they came from.”
Bess wouldn’t argue, even if she could do so without spitting out stones. She merely nodded and tried her hardest not to speak.
The fairy meant it as a blessing, a reward for kind words and behavior. Yet Bess’ words were ignored in favor of the gems they produced; her charity devalued now she had more wealth than anyone could want.
Her sister was as irritable and foulmouthed as Bess was gentle. Cursed by the same fairy, Maudie spat out toads and serpents when she spoke. Yet she had married a man who loved her, who treasured her vermin-producing words like the rarest of gems. When he went out in the morning, he kissed her, and dodged the hopping vermin coating their floor.
Bess had a king for a suitor, who treasured the gems she spat forth. Neither of them pretended it was love.
A hempen rope encircled Bess’s throat, not yet cutting off her power of speech as it soon would her life. “Goodbye,” she said to nobody as she kicked the stool out from beneath her. As she died, three gems fell to the forest floor.
(Kimberly is an aspiring historian and long time lover of fairy tale and myth.)