And then four things happened all at once. Colette suddenly felt exhausted; the sky grew ominously black; the weeping willow tree withered; and a beautiful woman dressed in white and carrying a small black box stood before her.
The woman was stunning. More beautiful than any woman Colette had ever seen, even among princesses and queens. And yet she was old. Old and wrinkled, with white hair and sparkling eyes and skin that seemed to be ablaze. Which made her beauty almost terrifying to Colette.
The sky was so low and dark that Colette felt she could reach up and touch the storm clouds with her hands. And she would have done just that, had she not been so very, very exhausted.
The beautiful woman took a step closer to Colette and looked at her with those eyes that sparkled. Like the diamond bean sparkled, thought Colette.
“You ate the beans?”
It wasn’t really a question. The woman was both accusatory and compassionate, disappointed and hopeful. Either because of her fatigue or fear, Colette could not answer.
“You ate them?” she pressed.
A long silence. The sparkling eyes would not let go of Colette’s heavy ones. Finally, Colette mumbled, “I heard a voice.”
The black clouds seemed eager to swallow Colette.
“Yes. No, no—a hiss,” Colette stammered. “It told me to eat the beans.”
The beauty leaned close, cupped Colette’s face in her aged hands, and whispered with diamond tears in her eyes, “And for that, you will lose everything.”
Then in one graceful movement, she beckoned the weeping willow come back to life, removed from her neck a silver chain that held a small silver spade, and placed the black box and spade necklace into Colette’s right hand.
To be continued...