“But when will I see you again, Mum?” asked Dylan.
“Oh, by and by, my dear. You can be sure of it.”
Orla smiled fondly at her son, struggling to keep her eyes open. It was just the two of them, just as she wanted it. Spicy rosemary permeated the room, as the soft evening light danced on the edge of the bed.
The nine-year-old gazed at the face he knew so well, holding the frail hand. He did not wish to tire his mum with any more questions. Besides, he had already ticked everything on his list, which he now kept carefully folded in his shirt pocket. His mum had told him last week to write down all the stuff swirling in his little head, and they had then spent the last few days going through each one.
“I have never lied to you, son, and I am not going to start now. Mummy is very sick.”
“I know, Mum. It’s okay.”
Dylan had seen the illness etched on his mum’s face long before the doctors found the cause.
“You could always see the truth of things, my dear.”
“Just like you.”
A gentle stillness descended, as his mum’s grip went limp in Dylan’s tiny hand.
Later that evening, Dylan walked down the dim hospital corridor with Uncle Robert. They passed a ward, where a man with long dishevelled hair was sitting. Their eyes met across the room, his haggard face tugging at Dylan, before he was ushered away gently by his uncle.
Now, lying in bed, Dylan gazed at his list, his mother’s voice soothing him, before he placed it under his pillow.
Months slowly passed. One spring day, Dylan came down for breakfast to find his uncle reading the paper. He froze, as staring out of the front page, long hair sleeked back, was the man from the hospital.
The heading read: MASTER JEWELLER, REDEMPTION OR REVULSION.
“That’s Martin Gear,” said his uncle, folding the newspaper onto his lap. “The most famous jeweller in England. Apparently, an enormous rough diamond was discovered last year, aptly named the Queen, and Mr Gear was commissioned by the royal family to cut it. The poor chap suffered a nervous breakdown but remains adamant to complete the task.”
“Uncle, if I write a letter to the jeweller, could you please send it for me?”
“Of course, my boy, but whatever for?”
“I think I can help.”
A week later, a sealed letter arrived for Dylan. With mounting excitement, he quickly read the note within.
“He replied back?”
“Yes, uncle. He’s inviting us to his shop in London. Number seven, Hatton Garden.” Dylan pointed to the address printed in golden letters.
Uncle Robert stared for a long time at his only remaining relative, scratching his bald patch in bewilderment. He then smiled sadly. “You remind me a lot of your mum. Orla always had this uncanny way about her. Did she ever tell you I got lost in the woods once when we were small? I was terrified, cried for hours. She found me.”
“…said she followed my tears…”
With the sun shining overhead, they emerged from St Pancras station onto a busy street, dodging people rushing about.
“Ah, here we go,” said Uncle Robert. They stood outside an imposing shop; exquisite rings, necklaces and bracelets sparkled behind thick glass windows. Dylan shouldered open the heavy doors, helped along by his uncle.
Mr Gear was sitting in a dark leather armchair, wearing a grey suit, silver hair iridescent beneath a chandelier. “Hello. You must be Dylan,” he said in a quiet, polite tone. “I’ve been expecting you. You, sir, must be his uncle.”
They shook hands.
“First of all, let me say I am very sorry about your mother, lad. It appears both of us have suffered tragedies. For me, it’s this bloody diamond.”
The master jeweller glared at Dylan with piercing blue eyes, before taking out his letter from an inner coat pocket. “I must be either going mad or desperate to accept help from a child, but you mentioned something here I could not ignore. You could actually see the cleavage planes within gemstones?”
“But that makes no sense…”
“I can also see you are colour blind, sir, and that you broke your left thumb.”
Mr Gear staggered back, shocked. “How did…?” he stuttered before regaining composure. “Never mind, follow me.” He led them to the back of the shop, where two guards stood on either side of a steel door. He led them into a bright workroom. There, on a simple desk, lying next to a hammer and chisel, twinkled the famed diamond, larger than a man’s fist.
“Marvellous,” whispered Uncle Robert.
“And driving me bonkers! Six months I’ve been studying it. One wrong tap and the biggest, purest diamond in living memory could shatter into pieces, along with my entire life!”
Dylan stepped closer, the diamond’s brilliance reflecting off his dark pupils. He could discern invisible threads, like a shimmering spider web, criss-crossing the gem. Dylan focused his vision. Only one such line ran right through the gem’s heart. Goose bumps tingled across his skin as he pointed to where the jeweller should aim his cutting tool.
Uncle Robert watched in amazement as the master jeweller nodded at his nephew’s counsel. “I sense it too, lad. But there are other lines that are more obvious to me.”
“No, sir, it’s this one. Please trust me.”
With a trembling hand, the jeweller placed the chisel’s edge onto the diamond’s surface. Sweating profusely, he raised the hammer aloft. “This was how I broke my thumb years ago. Quite frankly, I don’t give a rat’s arse anymore!” and struck with a sharp splintering blast.
Uncle Robert whimpered and Mr Gear collapsed, as the Queen diamond sheared cleanly into two flawless pieces.
Dylan took out his list and recalled his mum’s answer to his first question. “Yes, Dylan. You are special. You’re my son, after all.”
Haji M. works and writes in Dublin, Ireland. He loves reading fantasy books, martial arts and medieval history.