The man picked up the beautiful diamond and carried it out into the bright light of the sun. The diamond had not experienced the unfiltered light of the sun since that brief moment it was falling from the sky so long ago. Now the diamond found the intense light shining on it too much to bear. It was too bright and too hot after the cocoon of darkness the diamond has resided in for so long. Sensing the diamond’s distress, the man carried the diamond to a spot under a tree and set it down.
“You need to rest. Let the sun warm you and the breeze refresh you. Watch the animals and learn from them. The passing clouds will bring cleansing rains. There is nothing to fear here. And when you are ready, come and join me walking in the light.”
The diamond could hardly take in the man’s words. Without the muting of water or the covering of filth it was accustomed to, the words seemed to boom painfully loud. As had become its habit, the diamond panicked. Did the man really mean to leave it here alone, exposed to the dangers of the world around it? Did he not know that an animal might eat it as had happened before? That a great gust of wind could blow it away? Was he not worried that it might drown in the rain? And what was this nonsense about walking in the light? How can a lump go walking about like a man?
The man smiled lovingly at the diamond, then walked away. “He doesn’t want me,” the diamond thought, “he spent his time scraping away my protection and now he’s unhappy with what he found and is leaving me here to my destruction.”
Just then, an ant walked across the surface of the diamond, startling it. The diamond was relieved to realize it was such a small thing that it could not carry it away or swallow it whole. Looking around itself, the diamond saw ants wandering all around it. They were climbing plants and scurrying to and from a bit of fallen fruit nearby. Fascinated, the diamond watched the ants at work. As she watched, she became aware of all manner of creeping, crawling creatures toiling away. Worms burrowing, caterpillars chomping, beetles and aphids, bees and spiders all going about their business. The diamond envied them. They were all busy with their work, seemingly unmindful of anything else. And the diamond wished she too could find a purpose to be busy at rather than simply being a useless lump worrying.
A small flock of birds dropping from the sky interrupted the diamond’s envious reverie. At first the diamond was sure they had come to swallow her up, but instead she watched in horror as the birds picked off the ants, the worms, and all the other creepy, crawly things she had just moments earlier been envying. The diamond was glad that she was not eaten and was no longer envious.
Now the diamond turned her attention skyward. Under the shade of the tree the sun didn’t hurt so much anymore. She watched the birds flying in flocks across the sky and envied them for the diamond had never known companionship. She saw them flit about the tree above her and wished she could be so free. Perhaps it would be better to be a bird, she thought. To be free. To be powerful enough to simply swoop down and take what it needed from the little crawly things below.
The diamond was so busy watching the birds flitting and flying, swooping and eating that she didn’t notice when the wind began to blow harder and the clouds to turn gray. A large gust swept up and blew one of the flitting birds off course and into the tree the diamond sat beneath. The broken winged bird fell to the ground and a fox skulking nearby came out to tear its flesh away for a meal. The ants which had so recently been the bird’s meal came and feasted on what was left of the bird. And the diamond no longer wanted to be a bird.
The diamond was now painfully aware of the wind which was blowing hard against the tree and against her. When the man had told her of the wind, she had feared it, thinking she would be blown away on it. But the diamond seemed to have acquired a heft it hadn’t had before and stayed put against the air passing her by. Not everything was so solid, however, and the wind lifted bits of dirt, sand and debris with it. The diamond felt as if it were being scoured by the dirty wind. It watched in alarm as bits of sand and debris began to coat it. The man had worked so hard to clean her and now it was all being undone. If this kept up, the diamond would return to the dirty grave it had been rescued from.
As trouble follows trouble, the rain began to fall. Lightly at first and then harder and harder until the diamond feared not that it would be buried, but that it was returning to the suffocating water which had once been its home. But the rain was absorbed by the ground around her and the debris of the sandy wind was washed away. When the rain finally stopped, the diamond shone as brightly as it had when the man first cleaned her and brought her into the sun. But now a gentle breeze blew with the passing of the storm, drying the diamond and lifting the heat from the sun which had been too much for the diamond just a bit before.
The ground the diamond was sitting on was now soft and the grasses slick with the rain. To her surprise, the diamond discovered that she could shift her weight ever so slightly and slid down a bit away from the tree. From her new vantage point the diamond could see the lair of the fox who had earlier devoured the broken bird. The diamond was fearful. The fox had been so vicious and the diamond had no desire to witness any more spectacles like the one she had seen. But the ground she was on was level and the grasses were drying, so she was stuck where she was.
Soon enough, the fox returned carrying a bloody, dead thing in its mouth. At the fox’s approach three small, furry kits came tumbling out of the fox’s lair to greet their returning mother. The diamond was appalled that there were more of these little carnivores for her to watch. After eating, their meal, the kits proceeded to wrestled, pounce and play. They were so comical and enthusiastic that the diamond repented of her earlier disgust. It wasn’t their fault they needed to eat. And the birds that ate the ants became the ant’s food. It was the way of the world, she supposed.
Soon the diamond was wishing that she leave her lonely, worried existence to play like a young fox kit. To jump and bound about, wrestle and pounce. The diamond had not yet learned that you should be careful what you wish for. The playing fox kits came ever closer until one of them noticed her laying there, all shiny and clean. He batted the diamond to his sister who carried it in her mouth to a high spot and dropped it on her brother below. The kits continued playing with the diamond until they tired and went back to their lair for a rest.
While all this was going on, the diamond made a decision she had never made before. To not be afraid. She had been uncertain when the first fox kit had found her and positively panicked when the young girl kit had taken her in its mouth. But then she remembered the birds flying together and that the foxes ate animals, not diamonds. And she decided not to be afraid. For the first time in her life, she would just enjoy what was happening without worrying. And she did enjoy herself, flying through the air, bouncing off soft fur and rolling too and fro.
To her shock, the diamond could practically feel herself grow as the kits played with her. When they were done, she crawled – she knew not how – to a comfortable place under her tree and sat, contented. She watched the dappled light shining through the leaves above her rustling in the breeze. She shifted her gaze upward to watch the clouds passing by and was amused to see them shift and morph into the shapes of birds and trees, fish and bears. As she watched, a familiar shape appeared, though the diamond could scarcely recall what it was until she heard a sound she had nearly forgotten. The man was singing nearby and she realized with a start that it was his face emerging from the cloud above.
Shifting slightly, she turned to watch the man. The one who had rescued her from the trials of the fish and birds and freed her from her grimy prison. She watched him tend to some plants. Sit quietly and offer seeds to the small chipmunks and squirrels that scurried through the grass around him. He sat and watched the clouds overhead and the diamond wondered what he saw there in their shifting shapes. Without envy, but with a deep longing, the diamond wished she could be, not a bug or a bird or any other thing, but like the man. If only she wasn’t a diamond. If only he had wanted her and not abandoned her to lay beneath a tree. If only she could shift shapes like the clouds, she would become like the man and walk with him, live with him, singing the songs that he sang alongside him.
Coming soon – The Diamond and The Bride – Part 3