Shattered Pearls (The Pearl Series Book 1)By: Sidney Parker
SEVEN YEARS EARLIER
My whole world exploded in a matter of seconds. Everything I thought true in my life, every dream I cherished, every lie I persuaded myself to believe, it all came to a screeching halt when my heart was ripped from my chest and shredded into little tiny pieces. The world went dark and my lungs quit working, my breath felt trapped inside. Time seemed to stand still while my heart ceased beating. All because of a simple monotone phrase from the man of my dreams. The one I worshiped with every breath of air. My lover and my best friend, his voice gravelly and deep in my ear through the telephone:
“I’m not in love with you anymore.”
The world crashed around me. My body gave way as my legs buckled and I slid to the tile floor, my back catching a kitchen drawer pull, scraping my skin open. I could feel the burn, the sting as my fresh wound began to weep, bleeding the pain out of my soul.
Tears cascaded down my face. An ugly waterfall of hurt drenched the front of my shirt and my chest, scorching my flesh as they dripped over my skin. My fingers worked compulsively over the long strand of pearls I wore around my neck, a gift from my grandmother.
As a child, whenever I was upset or scared, she would give me her necklace of pop beads. I would spend hours popping them apart and back together again, running my fingers over the beads, feeling the smooth roundness, the continuity of the plastic pearls. It calmed me.
I kept fingering the pearls, over and over trying to find a tiny piece of that calming effect now, but it wasn’t working. I didn’t want my voice to betray the hysteria that had begun to build inside of me, or the pain. I tried to speak, but for a moment my voice would not comply with my mind. I swallowed silently and cleared my throat.
“Why do you feel that way?” I asked him.
I sounded so cold, so matter of fact, barely a quiver could be registered in my tone; even then, it was audible only to me. Isn’t that the way I always tried to come across? As if I didn’t care?
Life had created such a brittle shell surrounding me over the years, a shell to protect me from pain and loss. How could he possibly know the hurt he was causing me if I never let him see inside? Did I ever really let him know me? The real me? Maybe that was the problem.
I did care, I cared too much. I wanted to believe the fairy tale he created was real, that what we shared would last, but deep down, I knew.
Love was a temporary figment of one’s imagination. It didn’t last nor was it real. And it always ended in pain, one way or another.
“Why?” I asked quietly one more time to the silence in my ear. There was no answer, only the sound of my own pain. He had disappeared, just like everyone else, he was gone.
I gave the pearls laced through my fingertips one last tug in frustration. The strand broke, sending them scattering in every direction, just like my shattered dream—beautiful, perfect pearls, disappearing into life’s oblivion.
“Hi, I’m Emily Golden and I’m an addict.”
My index finger looped through a curl escaping the headband meant to contain my hair. It tickled my cheek. I swirled my finger through it, brushing my thumb over the strands of hair repeatedly, over and over. Old habits died hard and playing with my curls was one of them. So was picking the wrong kind of men.
“I am an addict,” I repeated, but this time I smiled. “I’m addicted to asshole men.”
A small throw pillow came sailing across the room, nailing the top of my head. Maggie Stuart has been my best friend since we were five years old and I came to live with my grandmother. She loves to throw things, especially at me.
I would never forget the day I arrived at Nana’s, a scared and confused child, my rag doll clutched tightly to my chest as if someone might take her away from me, too. Everything I possessed was in a box in the back of Nana’s old Station Wagon with the wood panel sides.
Maggie sat on the front steps, waiting, her own baby doll placed next to her on the cement, a wilted dandelion in one hand and a baggie of chocolate chip cookies in the other.
As I stepped out of the car, she skipped toward me, her hands extended with her offerings. Maggie’s smile was bright with anticipation of a new friendship; mine was tentative and fearful. The smile of a five-year-old girl with an old soul, already having lost so much.