My flash fiction piece “Diamonds and Pearls” is loosely based on an old Perrault fairy tale called “Diamonds and Toads.” In “Diamonds and Toads,” a fairy places a spell on two sisters—one kind and the other unkind. To the kind sister she gives a gift and to the other a curse. The “gift,” however, is to have precious gems spill from the girl’s lips every time she speaks. Of course, in the story, a handsome prince recognizes her value (we can only hope/pretend that it’s not her monetary value he recognizes) and rescues her from her cruel family. They marry, live happily ever after, la di da.
But that never really worked for me. Spitting out jewels every time you speak? This does not sound like a pleasant experience. Plus, I was never really convinced by that prince’s love. And what if someone in today’s world were to receive such a gift? It’s easy to think, “Oh! Then I’d be rich!” But really, would you? You’d have to sell the jewels somehow—which would probably require some tricky handling or some blackmarket dealing (and how would you account for the ongoing supply?). You could never speak in public, or you’d suddenly be an object of curiosity and freakishness. So… sounds good in theory. In practice, not so much.
And thus the idea for this story was born, on the whim of an idea, and carried on through an evening of rocking and holding my daughter as she drifted into sleep.
And then, as I got some critiques from some friends, I discovered that not everyone is familiar with the original story. I know I grew up with it somewhere in my vague past, but I don’t have any idea whether it’s a common enough story for most people to know. So if you’re reading this, I would love to have you comment and let me know—did you recognize the original fairy tale?
Whether or not you recognized the original, I hope you enjoyed my take on it. Thanks for stopping by!