The Queen of Diamonds
The Queen of Diamonds was a philanthropist.
He met her that way. At a charity gala, with the future of orphaned children at stake. And he was struck by her beauty almost at once – or rather by her ostentation, by the way she sparkled, by the silky cream dress that encircled her body, all folds and ruffles, enhanced with tiny diamonds and seed pearls. Her hair was piled up on her head, and that was set with diamonds too. Or were they cut glass? – because if he were honest with himself he doubted he could tell the difference.
Except that in this elevated company it was all real diamonds, and designer labels. Everybody’s veins flowed with the finest champagne.
He couldn’t help but notice that she was bidding on the art, that she was generous with her fortune in diamonds. He would only come to wonder much later if she were generous or just careless, if diamonds flowed past her like a river, so many of them, flowing through her fingers, that she didn’t count the cost of them. What was the cost of her generosity?
At the time he was just enchanted. And when she won the bidding on one of his own pieces, he felt as if that was an excuse to approach her, to hold out his hand and introduce himself. “I’m Gordon.”
Her expression was blank. Puzzled. Why did she need to know this?
“I’m… that is, I’m the artist. The piece you just bought.”
“Yes. I wanted to thank you. For bidding. I hope you’ll like it.’
She flicked her eyes in the direction of her new toy. “Yes. You’ve talent.”
“I hope so. I want to use it for good.” He could hear the trite pomposity in that. “I mean orphans, right, you can’t go wrong with that.” He could hear himself, he was cringing all over inside.
She gave him a dazzling smile. “It’s all right. I’m glad people like you are willing to offer their talents.”
He held the Queen of Diamonds for only three months. It seemed longer than his entitlement. She glowed wherever they went, while he was small and grey and perpetually out of place. He was immersed very briefly in her high living. Just long enough to understand that she’d bought herself more than one new toy on the night of that auction. He grazed the surface and found that it bled gold.
“You do love me?” she whispered to him at night, hungering after it, and draping him in fine, overpriced suits to win that love.
He answered as he should. But he knew when he answered he was telling her lies. There was a gulf between them too deep and too full of thorns for this game to last much longer. He found it strange to think that it was him who was judging her, finding her shallow and incomplete. Even though she did more kindness in a day than he ever did.
He said goodbye, never ever understanding why the pieces couldn’t be made to fit.
Picture credit/discredit: author's own work