Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)
TITLE: Diamonds are Narcissists' Best Friends
By Troy Manning
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The long gloves Laurel liked to wear were red and largely silk. I say largely because of the cotton patch over the ring finger where her diamond bored a hole. The facets were large enough on the diamond, which her husband Preston purchased for her, to admire her reflection in, which she did often. The surface of things always held greater appeal to Laurel than any supposed heart or core they might contain. It was there that facets shimmered and shone. Sometimes she could see her face in one and Cedricís in another. And that is how it was when they first met.
Laurel had recently cleaned house. By ďcleaned house,Ē I donít mean that literally, as Laurel hadnít cleaned a literal house since her teenage years. I mean to say, there were so many different men reflected in her ring that it began to remind her of a portrait gallery on a precinct wall. But after numerous days of nary a gentleman on her gemófor Preston had excused himself from their home a few suitors backóLaurel longed for another reflection than her own at which to gaze. Iím no narcissist, she reasoned.
Being more discrete than Laurelís former companions, Cedric didnít put in an appearance until she removed her ring to her right hand. It would be hard to call him chivalrous, however, since he had seen her make the exchange. He stood transfixed with her lovely gloves as she unsheathed her hands, displaying her mineral prism as though a crimson tide were retreating from the shore to showcase a coral kaleidoscope. Cedric drew nearer and placed his hand upon her own. Preferring the glittering image of a man on her hand to the real thing, Laurel didnít even turn to regard him directly.
While Preston seemed content remaining within a single facet, Cedric--on the other hand--seemed to move freely from one to another without sufficient notice. Laurel found this alternately exhilarating and disconcerting. Rolling her hand and watching Cedricís and her reflections move from space to space was often like a delightful game of cat-and-mouse. At other times, when her hand and own reflection were still and Cedricís continued to circulate among the spaces like a loose ball bearing, she felt helpless as a shoeless child before a vast expanse of scorching sand.
Though she never seemed to tire of the hall of mirrors on her fingerís funhouse, Laurel knew the carnival would one day leave town. Age would over-season her features, Cedric would weary of her, or, worse yet, Preston would demand an accounting for her priceless pet rock in a divorce settlement. Better to part with a limb, she thought.
Late one night, in an instance of self-confessed weakness, Laurel passed Cedric the keys to her car and assumed the shotgun position. No less fatigued than she, Cedric ran her Bentley head-on into a durable Dodge station wagon. The impact flung Cedric and Laurel through the window and past the passenger and driver of the Dodge with such velocity that no mid-air greetings could be exchanged between the couples in their reversal of vehicular fortunes. Finding herself back in the driverís seat, but now of a Dodge, Laurel died of shame. In the seat beside her, Cedric, through the facets, saw his own life-flame flickering weakly in the heart of the diamond. Wresting the ring off her finger, he held it before his face and began to blow.
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