Fire Flies by Marina Richards
The mother had two little girls. One named Diamond. The other Pearl.
One was wicked.
The other a dream.
One day, Pearl , the wicked, told her mother she wanted to please her, but her mother only laughed and said that was impossible. Pearl would never please her.
She would never be like Diamond: shiny hair, luminous skin, heart of gold.
So Pearl took a stick from the woods and asked her sister to join her for a walk. Then, while Diamond admired herself in a ray of sunshine, Pearl swung the stick down on her head five times until she was dead.
When she was sure Diamond wasn't breathing, Pearl threw the stick away and skipped home. But she tripped over a mangled old oak and fell. When she tried to stand, her legs refused to lift her and her arms wouldn't budge. Pearl screamed for help, but the winds howled and drowned out the sounds. The only thing she could do was lift her head and see the looming darkness around her. A blackness that gave her the terrors.
Then she remembered how Diamond used to sparkle at night like a candle. Many times when checking the chicken coops before dawn, their mother would take Diamond with her so she could better-see the eggs. Pearl thought if she could crawl to where Diamond lay, she would use her body for light, too.
But when Pearl looked back she gasped.
Diamond was gone.
"No! I killed you! I know I killed you! You weren't breathing! I checked!"
"Yes," said the mother, who had gone out in search of her children and now stood over Pearl.
"Yes, Pearl. You killed Diamond. I found her in the forest and carried her home. She no longer breathes. But she shines even in death, and she pleases me more than ever. That's why a mother will always love diamonds more than she loves pearls."
She then scooped Pearl into her arms, took her back to their cottage, and sat her in a wooden chair by the window. Pearl remained in that chair, paralyzed from the neck down, for the rest of her days, while her mother chanted verses about Diamond who now slept in a grave by the water-well.
Each night when the blackness came, Pearl watched the grave brighten with thousands of fire-flies, like little beacons of light.
It was the last thing she ever saw.
Marina Richards is a freelance writer. Her fiction has been published in volume 10 of Hawaii Pacific Review and The Humor Press. She was also published by Writer’s Digest Magazine. Marina lives outside of Boston and is working on a novel.