razor blade had boiled for thirty minutes, she carefully lifted it in
fingers between two sterile pads, then thrust one immaculate
edge of steel deeply into her thigh. Into the cut, she inserted the
sterilized diamond, burying it under a layer of bandages that she
should not be taken off for two weeks. Later, the pain attacked, of course,
that hint of something's going wrong beneath the skin. Perhaps the diamond
would grow inside her. Had she dreamed she heard it crying?
She had reflected for a second as the metalic edge caught the distant
fire in the heavens; it was that time of day when a lonely room turns
to gold, but the flickering desire to stop her hand faded against
the starched clouds that rustled across the outside of her window, a
curtain of glass through which that momentary ray had slipped into her
Before, on her way
home in the bleached afternoon, she had been thinking about the diamond.
It gave her comfort to think about it. Raising her eyes heavenward,
she sensed the sky's folding down like a stack of laundered sheets
covering the puffy
spruces. The entire day's mood had made her think of biscuits rising.
Now it was night.
She pulled her patched
dress down over the bandages and turned on the one uncovered light
bulb that dropped like a spider from the chalky ceiling;
that morning she had imagined the snow was crawling down across the sky,
back and forth, back and forth, in geometric indifference.
remained on the table to stretch the white, flat dough. Magazines and music
were piled everywhere and left to settle in their serenity.
A cluster of white grapes floated quietly upon a page of Mendelssohn.
A book of Bach inventions stood folded like angel wings to mark a place.
She put up the wooden ironing board while the light in the room revealed
atoms of flour suspended in the air. There was plenty of space on the ironing
board to make scones, she mused. But she never made anything.
It was time for him
to come home now. She waited by the window and listened through the
drawn shade, but no sound of approaching feet caressed her ears.
He would ask to see the diamond, she told herself. But she would say
that the diamond was no more to be seenno more to be seen in the
way he had always viewed it before.
Now he would have to see its beauty
her. Now he would have to look at her. She would make him understand
that she and the diamond were one. It would move inside her and travel
up to her eyes where he could find it, radiant and looking out at him,
holding his gaze in solemn mystery.
She waited all night
but he never came; then she went out again in the morning to the place
where she washed clothes in a back room. She had lost
her sense of time, of mornings and nights. Beads of moments to her were
like the swift trails of soap bubbles on the floor. The years of her
were clusters of minutes, broken fragments spread across an eternity
That night she had
the strong impression that maybe he would be moved to laugh joyously
if she took the diamond out, and brought it to him.
She remembered the night he had taken it for her. He had said to her, "Give
me those baby things. You ought not to look at them any more, the way
you sit and stare and fold the little blanket again and again."
She knew then, of
course, that he had been right. They would never use that little blanket
now. They would never use any of those small things
now. He had told her, "Here, look at this that I brought you. Look
at this and give me those other things."
She remembered that
his hand was bleeding where the broken glass had cut it when he removed
the diamond. He had been out of breath, so she wrapped
the little white blanket around his bleeding hand, and he departed, into
the stolen night. Her gray hair disturbed the dusty air as she shook these
thoughts out of her head. Had her treasury of images been hours, days,
years? She could not tell.
Then, in one desperate
decisive act she began clearing the tiny room, straightening rows of
old magazines that should have been discarded decades
ago, when, unexpectedly, out of a sealed stack of disheveled papers,
crept a small, water-stained book. It fell to the ground with a resounding
thud louder than its weight should support. The Gospel According
She knelt to pick it up.
Then she arose, went to the window and raised the shade. No light filtered
through the cloudy squares of glass, but the ecstatic dawn was an hour
Copyright © 1977, 2007 by Robert E. Romanelli PhD