Title: The Diamond
Characters: Iris and Dahlia Hawthorne
Word Count: 1288
Summary: Iris had already betrayed Dahlia - so surely one more betrayal couldn't hurt.
Iris should have been there, on the bridge with her sister when the exchange had taken place. Then maybe, this would have never happened. At the very least, Iris had saved Dahlia from the churning water – her sister’s damp red hair stuck to the sides of her frozen face. For a moment, everything was silent – was everything all right? Then Dahlia let out a shallow breath, and Iris’s heart fluttered with relief. Thank the spirits, Dahlia was alive.
After listening to Dahlia take a few more breaths -in, out, in, out- Iris nudged her sister over, slipping Dahlia’s bag off her while she was still too weak to resist. If Iris’s suspicions were correct, the diamond would still be in there. Iris had seen the fire in Dahlia’s eyes when she had spoken of revenge, and Iris knew that her sister would not have given up so easily. Their father…their father deserved it, after all.
The bag was mostly empty: inside there was only a half-eaten packet of chips and a thin sweater – that was all Iris could see, at the very least. She pulled the sweater out; it was frayed and looked as though it should have been thrown out years ago, and although Iris was not sure how much it would help, she wrapped it around her sister’s shoulders anyway. Then she took one more look in the depths of the bag and in the dim sunlight, something glittered.
It was the diamond, just like Iris had simultaneously hoped and feared. Dark red and beautiful, it reminded her of her father, the father who had left her behind six years ago. In her hands, Iris held two million dollars. This diamond had caused everyone so much trouble – Iris still wasn’t sure what had happened today, but nowhere did the plan involve Dahlia jumping into the Eagle River. Iris had been watching from a distance when it had happened, as she had been too much of a coward to help Dahlia. Iris wondered if Dahlia would forgive her, or if she, Iris, was beyond redemption.
The diamond, Iris decided, had to go. Better to have as little reminder of this day as possible – no remnant of the plan of a pair of silly teenage girls. Dahlia was still not awake: better to do it now. With the diamond gone, Iris knew that she would not deserve Dahlia’s forgiveness.
Iris stood at the side of the river, being careful not to slip in herself. It has started to rain, and she was not sure how long she waited before taking a deep breath and throwing the diamond in. Now she had betrayed her sister, but at the very least, the diamond was gone.
There was a rustling sound behind her and Iris turned around quickly to see her sister stirring, picking at the sweater draped over her shoulders and shrugging it off despite the goosebumps that were now dotting her bare arms. Iris looked at Dahlia, not sure if there was anything to say.
Dahlia’s face was angry, and she crossed her arms over her chest as she stumbled to her feet, trying not to shiver in the cold. “You were meant to be there,” Dahlia accused, and Iris did her best not to shrink away. The diamond was gone now – but Dahlia did not know that yet.
Iris’s fingers clenched tightly at her sleeves; now it was her trying to resist the cold, trying her best to ensure that her teeth didn’t chatter when she answered her sister. “I betrayed you. I’m sorry.” Was she apologising for not being there, or was she apologising for throwing the diamond into the depths of the Eagle River? Iris couldn’t be sure anymore.
Turning her head so Iris was looking at her back, Dahlia responded, “Sorry isn’t good enough, Iris.”
Iris was sorry though – sorry that their mother had never loved them, sorry that her father had left her behind at the temple instead of Dahlia, sorry that everything had come to this. But Iris had known, hadn’t she, that she didn’t deserve Dahlia’s forgiveness? “I betrayed you,” Iris repeated. “Kill me.” This way, Dahlia would know just how serious Iris was.
Dahlia’s head turned back to face Iris so quickly she almost spun. Iris could see the smirk spreading on her sister’s face. “Do you really mean that, Iris?” Dahlia asked, her voice curious, almost as if she already had a plan for Iris’s death.
“I betrayed you,” Iris reiterated for a third time now and then, she decided it was time to confess. However, the words would not come the way she wanted them. “I…I failed you, Dahlia. We—I—lost the diamond.”
“You lost the diamond,” Dahlia said in a flat monotone. For a moment, Dahlia looked almost deranged – red hair tumbling over her shoulders, her lips frozen blue from the cold, cheeks white and eyes puffy, all combined with a murderous glare.
“Your bag, it was open,” Iris answered, almost too quickly. Sister Bikini had always taught her not to lie. “When you fell, it slipped out. As soon as I got you out of the water, I looked for it.” That last part, at the very least, was the truth.
Everything was silent for a moment, apart from the pattering of rain and Dahlia’s heavy breathing. “I suppose it doesn’t matter,” Dahlia said finally. “The only important thing is that…that man no longer has it.”
Iris could do little else but nod.
Then Dahlia’s hand was reaching out for Iris’s face so fast that Iris thought she was going to be slapped, but instead, Dahlia’s cold fingers stroked her cheek, almost tenderly. “Where would I be without a sister like you?” Dahlia asked.
Iris wondered if that was meant to be a trick question, and as such, she did not answer it, simply hoping that Dahlia would continue talking. “Even if you weren’t there when I needed you by my side, I suppose you did pull me out of the river. And now, you are going to help me run away.”
“Run away?” Iris asked, her voice faint. She had thought they had everything planned out – Dahlia would come to the temple once she had escaped from her father, and she would be safe with Sister Bikini, just like Iris was.
“You think I went to all that trouble to stay here?” Dahlia almost snorted, rubbing her arms in a futile attempt to warm them up. “I know you’ll help me, Iris.” Then, almost as an afterthought, she added, “I wouldn’t kill you.” The words that Iris felt were missing were ‘not yet’.
“No,” Iris said, and now her teeth really are chattering in the cold, “I just wanted you to be happy, Dahlia. I’d do anything.”
“If you want me to be happy, you’d help me, Iris.” Dahlia’s hold on Iris’s cheek tightened, pinching, squeezing.
Iris did her best to smile, despite her sister’s grip on her face. She wasn’t sure of anything anymore – she’d only agreed to the plan in the first place because she loved her sister and wanted the best for her. When Dahlia had contacted her after nearly six years, Iris had found that her sister had changed – Dahlia was still smart, strong and brave, but there was something else, something beneath the surface – something about this new Dahlia was dangerous. Iris didn’t know if she could change it, but the very least she could do was try.
So Iris found herself agreeing – whatever Dahlia thought was best for herself had to be right – but Iris found a small consolation in the fact that the diamond was gone now.
With any luck, Dahlia wouldn’t be able to run very far.