Friday, July 23, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #33

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.)

26 comments:

Peter Dudley said...

I had to read it twice to understand the beginning--at first, I thought her mother was a smuggler forcing her to swallow gems and then spit them up. Reading back after understanding the full story, I really like this. Tragic for Bess, and for her sister. I wonder why the fairy felt the need to curse them.

Aerin said...

Pete, it's an older fairy tale about a girl who falls down a well and is kind to an old woman who's the fairy.

Of course, this is not an ending Grimms or Anderson or whomever ever wrote - but as a fellow fairy tale lover, I liked it just the same!

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I've heard that one before...interesting too!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ouch! Sad, sad, sad. Well done.

I'm with you, Pete, but I think I was derailed by the smuggling story I read prior to this one.

Jade L Blackwater said...

Such a sad fairy tale! Great use of good/evil dichotomy.

(My personal favorite part is the side mention of the sister whose loving husband dodges creepies at the morning kiss. Lovely!)

sea minor said...

I rather like it. No words wasted, a genuine fairytale with the cast you'd want, then the darkness of the ending to tie it all off like a ribbon.

JR's Thumbprints said...

My mind's too embedded in reality to enjoy fairy tales, but I will say this: "very well written and excellent word choice."

Michael Morse said...

I've been starting my day by reading a few of these stories, what a start today! Great imagery, the tale flowed freely and will stay around my mind for a while. I may even watch what I say.

September said...

Quite interesting. Though it did make me upset that the foul-mouth sister found such a nice suiter.
It's always the sweet ones who end up getting taken advantaged of.
Great little story. Nicely done.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

No good can come of fairy gifts. Nice take on the old story.

Aniket said...

I never trust them fairies. No one can be that good. And my doubts were confirmed in this piece. Poor Bess. :( Felt like a much darker take on Midas.

Kimberly B. said...

Thanks for all your kind words! I'll admit, I was a little hesitant to enter a story based on a lesser known fairy tale, but that's just what the prompt brought to mind.

If it's any consolation, September, in the original fairy tale the rude sister goes off into the story and dies. The good one marries the king; no indication whether she cares about his motivation or not.

Shona Snowden said...

Nice combo of fairy tale and 'real life' emotion and love!

Angel Zapata said...

Magic always comes with a price. This is a dynamite story.

Lee said...

Very nice, particularly the statement about love as depicted by the sister. Some people just have all the luck, even if they do spew toads.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh wow! I love the juxtaposition in this piece between the jewels and the toads. This is lovely and refreshing. So much told in a little space!

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Kimberly!

I too thought Mom was forcing the daughter to bring jewels into the house, what a nasty little fairy this was... at least her sister found happiness even with the toad and snakes. Too bad it didn't work out for Bess.

Dottie :)

fairyhedgehog said...

I like the idea that what's meant to be a blessing is in fact a curse.

Deb Smythe said...

Ouch. Not all fairytales have happy endings.
Nice writing.

J. Elis Morgan said...

I kind of liked the fact that it was the wicked-tongued sister who got the loving guy and the kind sister married someone who used her. It was an unexpected twist and I love the unexpected! Really good read.

bekbek said...

This is neat. I like the idea of changing the original tale (which I had not heard of before now). I will note, though, I agree with Peter Dudley's comment, in that I thought this was an entirely different genre at first. I am only starting my reading of the contest entries, and I thought maybe your main character was a child who had swallowed her Mom's jewels and been forced to bring them up. Some sad tale indeed! So I'd look for a way to "place" the genre more firmly at the outset. But I do like where you went with it!

Laurel said...

I adore this, in part because this fairy tale fascinated me as a child. I found the prospect of spitting stones every time one speaks to be absolutely horrifying and never did get how that was supposed to be a good thing.

Great take on an old tale.

JaneyV said...

This is really story that examines that is meant by the concept off value. The fairy saw only human greed so she rewarded kindness with what she thought was valuable. The sister's venom could not be cured because she was jealous of her sibling. The King saw the nice sister as an appropriate suitor because she had riches and the poor girl who did the good turn would have been satisfied with a good man who loved and appreciated her.

So much packed in, so cleverly, into 250 words.

SzélsőFa said...

i'm reading the stories backwards and the last one i recall was one with a human 'mule'.
so i thought at first that it would end up like that story.
i was fascinated by being it a fairy tale.
and loved how the toads are accepted in a friendly fashion, whereas jewels are just jewels - there's no love around for poor Bess.

Vincent Kale said...

I don't know if I feel worse for Bess or Maudie! Both of those curses sound awful. (Maudie's affliction reminds me of Ron Weasley blarfing up slugs) What a terrible fairy though, what'd these two girls ever do to her? I wish Bess could have had a better resolution though :-/ so sad

Very entertaining!

Catherine Vibert said...

Wonderful! I love fairy tales, and this is a very modern one. Very very nice.