Sunday, October 22, 2006

microfiction: glass

It started as an accident, or a series of accidents. Every time she went away, he had to wash the dishes, and every time he would accidentally break a glass. When she was around, he never broke them. Buying a replacement, even the expensive crystal, was never a problem, but the breaking itself was irritating, curious, and a little bit funny. The first few times, at least. It became a pattern: even taking extra care, he'd still lose one. Something would distract him: a bird flying past the kitchen window, the backup beep of a truck, something, and a glass would slip or tip. Just one glass, almost always after she'd been gone a couple weeks. Then everything would be normal and stay intact, and then she'd come home a few days later. Within a few months she'd have to go away again, and he'd break another one. Their tumblers were heavy, but often as not a seemingly light tap against a pot or the sink bottom would crack it, as if all the stresses they'd endured over the past months were finally enough.

When they first started living together, they had occasional fights like any other couple. Inside, she was often raging; she fought like an assassin, unexpectedly and from an angle he could never anticipate. One day he came home from work to find her dropping the paperweight on the floor. He'd bought it for her on a business trip years ago, a shining broad thing, voluptuous bubbles inside and a delicate web of cobalt strands randomly flung around the equator. It was one of the first gifts he'd given her, and she treasured it for its beauty and the love with which he'd given it. She'd kept dropping it until some of the strands snapped. She was angry at him for casually flirting with someone, even though at the time she'd said she didn't mind. After they'd made up, she was sorry for breaking the paperweight, but kept it. It became an object of regret.

But after those first few rocky years they grew into each other, teaching and learning. They became certain there was no better lover, no better love than theirs. Their friends envied the way they supported each other, never shouted at or insulted the other.

One day he had to take her to the hospital. She hadn't been well the past few days, and ended up staying for for three weeks. During that time he knocked over a glass next to the sink. The first one. The first of a long series.

I break a glass for every day she's gone.

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