The Flawless Diamond
The brook babbled softly, slowly, as Jerry walked along. It was a sun filled morning with songs in the trees and laughter in every breath. The smell of rain still hung in the air from yesterday's shower.
"You know, I think this is the day" he exclaimed seeing his friend just ahead, "I'm really going to find a perfect diamond."
"What? You're so crazy, where are you gonna find a perfect diamond?" she called as she jogged towards him, the basket bouncing against her leg. They walked for a while, and talked for a while. Not about serious things just worthless blather and so and so.
"Here's a good spot," Shirley said, as they came to a sun-crested hill. She gracefully set the basket on the dew wet grass, then she ever so gently, unfolded the checkered red blanket. When she sat her hair flew up in her face, like the introductory scene featuring the heroine of the motion picture. Jerry thought to himself: she's cool, kind of like a guy only smarter and easier to talk to. I don't tell people this, cause they'll think I'm a weirdo, but she always smells great better than my mom. I've known her for four grades, I'm in 8th grade. Wonder what she's thinking.
As they sat and ate, Jerry brought the subject of the diamond back into play, pointing to the old miner's cave in the middle of the woods.
"The old coal cave opening, don't worry I thought this over enough. There has got to be diamonds in there by now." he pulled out a hand-drawn map of the old coal cave.
Shirley wasn't one for plans that didn't make sense or, that were ill thought out or irrational. Which were typically the generic attributes of most of his ingenious schemes.
"My mom will never go for this," Shirley brought to my attention, "there's no way. Besides it's dangerous. We could get lost or it could collapse. Let's just finish our picnic then we can go to my house and get the paints, that way we can paint each other and all the trees."
"Well in case you weren't listening, I didn't ask your mother to come with us. We can paint any day. I really have a good feeling about today, come on!" he nudged pleadingly.
The pair finished their lunch and Jerry convinced Shirley to come, if only to keep him from becoming lost. The picnic was finished with haste, then Shirley ran back to her house for supplies. Jerry leaned against the entrance waiting as she approached waving a flashlight and wearing small satchel. Jerry wanted to tell Shirley that bringing the flashlight was a good idea, but frankly he didn't want to. They went in and flicked on the false flame to light the possibly treacherous journey. The flashlight being the only thing that keeps them from the darkness. There was only room for them to waddle, hunched over like penguins.
As the passage widened they were taken by the overall beauty of the sparkly wonderland. Everywhere the light shone the rocks gleamed with pride and prestige. Then Jerry caught a glimpse of Shirley's eyes and realized they were more beautiful than any of the, now dull seeming rocks. His eyes met Shirley's and they both looked away embarrassed. They wandered around the old tunnels until the expedition lost it's adventurous air. Jerry looked around, at his hand drawn map, then at Shirley. He repeated this several times before he groaned and began to panic.
The flashlight began to dim as did their hopes of finding a way out. Shirley wasn't particularly scared, but Jerry was terrified of the dark and moistness that enclosed his being. She tried to calm him down but it was not going to work, he was just too scared. Finally she took his hand and led through the cave, shaking the dying flashlight. Out of the corner of his eye he saw it, the shiniest rock he'd ever seen. Shirley saw it too, for the moment before Jerry dug it out of the wall and held it out. They both sat on the filthy floor, admiring what they assumed was a natural diamond.
Eventually they resorted to aimlessly wandering around, most likely in circles. Then they took another rest, it felt as though they had been wandering for hours. The tone in Shirley's voice caught his attention.
"Jerry, if we can't get out, do you think that rock was worth it?" She asked sarcastically with a twinge of fear in her breath.
"Not really," he shrugged.
"Well," she mumbled "If I have to die in an old cave on an adventure with you, it wouldn't be that bad."
"What do you mean?" he asked, bewildered by what she said.
"I mean, if I have to die, there are worse ways then with you."
"Oh," he said, ecstatic that he was in the dark, his face was burning with confusion and embarrassment. He moved closer to her as if she would, in a second, slip from within his grip. First she flinched, then she settled with her head upon his shoulder. He held her hand for what seemed like an everlasting eternity.
"Don't worry, we aren't going to die," he whispered.
For some strange reason or another she remembered the compass, that she had thoughtfully packed. Shirley tore into the satchel and nudged Jerry tapping the map furiously.
"You're right, the entrance is north, we're not going to die."
They kept going north and miraculously through the concaves of the threateningly complex mountain of coal and rocks, things were beginning to make sense.
"Of course," she yelled as they passed another recognizable mound of rock and moon glitz.
They were still holding hands as the soft evening light broke at the end of the passage. There was no one there but them. The fresh air hit both their lungs like a rain in the desert. After the stale air of the cave, for what seemed like days, but was only four hours, their lungs expanded and their heads cleared.
"Oh, No. You dropped the perfect diamond."Shirley said a little dismayed.
"No, I held onto her the whole way out," he smiled at her and received a toothy grin
and a blown kiss in return.
"My Mother is going to kill me," she groaned as they walked home hand in hand.
The next day was like a disgusting, or unwanted day that people sing about to make it go away. Jerry slept in late and awoke to find a note taped to his bedroom window. It read: Jerry, went to the cave meet me there, bring your smock and painting brush.
He met Shirley in the park and they painted almost the entire day. They also in their naive, juvenile thoughts, painted a sign for the cave that would discourage anyone that read it. The sign read: Monster's Cave. The cave never really produced diamonds but it was a fun hang out for Shirley and Jerry. They would talk and when school started up again, they would do homework and just be goof-balls. No acts, no games just friends having fun. Over the years they grew closer, then Shirley's Mom died in an accident, and she had to move to New York where she had relatives.
After and during college Jerry never really got close to many girls. He had experienced far more than they could give him, and nothing else would ever suffice. On a road trip with some friends to New Jersey a few years later he ran into her. They spent an entire hour talking and then made the decision to drive from to Washington state. After a week of separate travel, both halves of a great pair met at the old baseball field. Shirley joined Jerry in his car, an old but reliable classic. They drove past the old middle and high school, both stating what they knew of the old class mates. The car squealed as it turned left onto the street where they both grew up. At some point the car had been abandoned and they set off on foot. They ended up in the park that they had spent one fourth of their childhood playing in.
The pair had walked nearly the entire park when they came to the miner's shaft that had been their most cherished retreat. Jerry turned out his pockets, handing the folded map to a nostalgic Shirley. He crouched and peered inside the somewhat eery opening. Shirley grabbed him by his jacket and jerked him backwards.
"Hey! What was that for?" Jerry asked bewildered.
"Oh, you know exactly what that was for," she scolded with her brow raised.
"Wha...? I wasn't, I swear," he laughed innocently. Quickly he scrambled into the cave before she could take hold of him.
"I'm not coming in after you," she said crossing her arms over her chest and straightening her face.
Stealthily, he caught both her ankles firmly and pulled her to the ground. Furious, she hobbled after him. She froze, then walked back to where the entrance could still be seen and leaned against the rock wall. She closed her eyes and smiled, as if it were only a dream. Jerry looked upon her mature beauty with an overwhelming feeling. The feeling that he had wasted his youth, being a kid. When Shirley's eyes opened, he was holding her just as he had all those years ago. How had she not felt him draw near? As he stared into her eyes, she wondered just what she was doing here.
He softly traced her lips with a single, nervous finger. She bit her lower lip, attempting to contain herself. Was this what she wanted? Is this why she drove forever, to a place overflowing with unwanted memories? Moments before his lips joined hers, she turned away from him.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"About what?" he attempted to assure her.
"This is so perfect, and I ruined it,"
"It wouldn't be perfect without you,"
Shirley shook her head and walked out of the cave. Jerry followed cautiously, giving her the reins. She walked on, crossing her arms defensively in front of her. He followed at a distance with his hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. She endeavored to ignore him and pretend that this was all a dream. When he began to whistle, she lost her composure and broke into a feverish run. He sighed and ran after her. She stopped, and collapsed on the ground with her chest heaving dramatically. Jerry pulled her upwards and held her to him.
"Don't touch me," she screamed, pounding her fists against his chest weakly.
"It's going to be okay," he whispered into her ear, holding her firmly against himself.
She began to sob as she wrapped her arms around his neck. He continued to hold her, feeling her emotions drain from her. A calmer and if possible, more beautiful Shirley stared weakly up at him from tired emerald eyes.
"Damn you," she smiled to herself while lethargically shaking her head.
"Yeah, I know," he nodded with a soft smile.
Jerry walked her back to his car, then drove her to the only motel in town. It just so happens that the walls were purple and the carpets were green and burnt with cigarettes. Even though there was a distance between them, Jerry felt as though they were as close to the old days as they were going to get. The next morning, she was gone. No note, just the memory of her.
Rather than move, or ever leave again, Jerry set up a family practice in Brandsville. One day, he noticed a familiar name on the patient list. A name that he had not thought of in some sixty years. He arranged to meet her in the park, where they could reconcile old matters.
After so many comfortless years, Doctor Jerrold Murdoch Smith looked upon what his eyes had been searching for. Slowly she made her way to him with a subtle hesitation. Walking past him, she pressed a yellowed piece of paper at him. His mouth opened in awe as she made her way, unwavering towards the miner's shaft.
Shirley crawled every so slowly that it was almost forever, he followed her and they sat there for the longest time.
"How could you leave like that?" he wheezed in his elderly state.
"I didn't know how to tell you. I still had feelings for you,"
"I have something to give you that I never had the chance to," he pulled the sparkling, flawless ring from his pocket.
"Oh, I don't think I could accept this from any one" she smiled while the tears ran down her face, "not from anyone but you."
Jerry could still feel the warmth of her hand in his mine and the laughter that would stay in his mind until the end. At some point he had fallen asleep, but it didn't matter because Shirley fell asleep too.
I wonder why I didn't tell her I felt about her the way I did in the cave. There was no way I could've known what was coming. There was no sign that the wish she made would come true. Now I even wish I could of stopped her from going into the cave. She always wanted to spend all of her time in here painting, or just things that were a type of expression. At this very moment she has the most brilliant smile.
She had been sleeping for a while now so I went to hold her hand, she seemed cold for the some reason. I needed to feel like the old me so I looked over the map and tried to wake her. I shook her slightly and still she didn't wake. I ran my finger along her neck, but there was no pulse to speak of . She had exactly what she wanted, now my perfect diamond is at peace. I slid the ring on her lifeless finger and looked once more at my darling Shirley.
I'm not coming out of the cave. We won't be separated again, The ring may be stolen and our bodies may decay but our spirits will forever be intertwined in the cave. I will always love you my perfect diamond.