gin. on Twitter has a Patreon and I’m a patron of hers and she sends me a writing prompt every Thursday. I’m going to try to use every prompt this year and publish them here, and at the end of the year I’ll stuff them together in a book and see if anyone will toss money at me in exchange for reading them all in one place.
I wish I knew what to say, but I don’t.
I never do.
“I’m sorry” gets old.
It’s never enough.
“I’m sorry,” I say anyway, because saying nothing is worse.
“You don’t have to apologize,” she lies.
I can be silent now that I’ve apologized, so I stare at my feet, which is a mistake. I can see the shattered pieces of whatever it is that I’ve just broken. Evidence of my unfortunate talent.
How do I know she’s lying? I can hear you screaming the question at me.
Because they always are. Polite words betrayed by sighs, irritation radiating off like heatwaves that cause the air to ripple in the distance. What else can I expect, though, when my mere presence causes such havoc?
I can’t blame them for being angry. They have that right.
I’m not just clumsy, you know. It’s more than that. I seem to invite fragile things to leap into the air and fling themselves against hard surfaces when I’m near. Floors, walls…bathtubs (more than once).
It’s a problem.
I’m so lost in my thoughts that I’m ashamed to say I nearly jump out of my skin when she puts her hand on my sleeve.
I’d forgotten she was still there.
She snatches her hand back, but her body doesn’t move.
My eyes stay on my feet, despite being startled, and so I see her crouch down to examine the carnage. The pieces catch the light and look like they want to dance, and she picks up some of the larger pieces to examine them.
“They’re perfect,” she says.
“I can totally use these. They’re exactly what I needed!”
“What are you talking about?”
She picks through the sparkling pile and gathers particular pieces. They’re all broken, I can’t imagine what good they are to her.
I start again when she jumps back to her feet. She has ignored the smallest and largest pieces. They lay in the street, in the sun, evidence of my destructive power.
“Come with me,” she invites. She’s got her shards gathered in the pocket of her shirt so they don’t cut her hands. One holds the pocket together, the other beckons me to follow.
I’m curious enough to do it, maybe because once I offer a slight nod, she turns and starts walking and doesn’t look back to see if I follow. It makes me feel a little less intrusive. A bit less guilty.
She really doesn’t seem to mind.
Then again, maybe she’s taking me to a trap, where she can beat the price of whatever I broke out of me.
But she doesn’t seem like that type. She seems sweet and genuine, and yes, there’s no way to be able to tell that, but it kind of sits on her like a hat.
Or maybe an aura, but I can’t see those. Anyway, it’s just a feeling.
She doesn’t dart, but she doesn’t dawdle, either. She leads for long enough to make me think I should stop and let her go on ahead, to let the crowd swallow her up. I’m about as good at second guessing as I am at breaking things.
Just when my feet are ready to stop and I’ve convinced myself that she didn’t really mean it, and she was just being nice, she pauses. She looks back, and smiles, and hooks a sharp right into a doorway.
And because she looked and smiled, my feet keep moving.
She’s disappeared from the doorway once I reach it, and I’m as careful as I can be as I move through it. I’m careful of my elbows, and my feet. My hips tend to brush against tottering tables with expensive vases, so I keep an eye out for any of those.
I’m so busy trying to keep track of my parts and make sure nothing fragile encounters me, that I don’t notice the space.
“Over here,” she calls.
She’s across the room. I look at the expanse I have to cross, and then forget to be careful.
It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to break – everything has already been broken.
Mosaics made of of broken pots and vases, and other fragile, breakable things cover the floor, reassembled from their pieces into illustrations of themselves. One doesn’t walk on art, but there’s no choice. The center path is worn smooth but is no less vibrant for that fact.
The sun falls through a window and illuminates a spot ahead, and I walk toward it. Toward her.
“I only get to keep the pieces that break,” she explained. “And I can’t bring myself to break them, even when they’re not usable.”
She gestures to a shelf, and I look.
Malformed mugs. Collapsed vases. Magnificently painted and fired, but imperfect.
“I can’t break them,” she says with a sheepish smile. “I love them too much, but when they are broken, they become beautiful again.”
“I can help with that.”