Around 12:45 in the morning, on Saturday, July 27th, I broke a glass. I didn’t mean to do it, but it happened all the same. I knew the glass was slick, as there had been a cold perspiration about it for days. I knew it was slippery, so I grasped it tightly in my right hand. I was very conscious of that glass, and I was so careful, so gentle when I held it.
It wasn’t a fancy glass, but it meant a lot to me. You know how when you get really thirsty, and you open the cabinet to grab a glass so you can get a drink, and the first one you look for is that one, the one cup that feels just right in your hand, the one that seems to make your drink colder on a hot day? Yeah, that one. Sometimes, that special glass isn’t in the cupboard, and you feel a silly little bit of disappointment about it, but then you go ahead and grab another. It works, you know, it does the job. But it never does feel “just right.”
I’ve had this glass forever. I mean really, I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there in the cupboard when I needed it. Dependable as a sunrise in the morning, it never let me down. Sounds like a silly thing to say about something so mundane, doesn’t it? But it’s true. I enjoyed the familiarity of it, my favorite glass and I. We had our own little routine.
Lately, it had developed a bit of a crack in it. At first, the crack was just a tiny chip, and I tried to ignore it. Eventually, the chip grew to a small crack, but I found if I turned the cup just right, I could pretend it wasn’t there at all. A couple of weeks ago, though, that damn crack seemed to spread right across my glass. There was no way to turn it, no lighting trick or placement of my hand that could cover the giant crack. And do you know what was worse? Hundreds of rivers of slits, cobwebs of fractures appeared. I mean, it didn’t leak, I could still use it, but I had to be really, really gentle. I felt in awe of this glass…to be so broken, yet so strong.
There was no way to fix it.
We had a crowd at the house that night, and even though I was careful about the frailty of my glass; even though I remembered to hold it just tightly enough to keep my grasp, but not so tightly I caused it any more harm; even though I was cautious about the perspiration dripping down the sides….even so, my glass still broke.
It broke in the darkness, the deep of the night so black the stars were barely visible. Just before 1 a.m., when the rest of the world had the audacity to be sleeping, that’s when it happened. And the world continued to slumber, just as it always had, just as if my glass, my special, perfect glass, had not just shattered all over the floor.
It happened so quickly, and it seemed that I watched it from outside myself: my grip loosening on the glass, then rapidly trying to tighten my grasp in time, Catch it!; the slow, slow descent of my glass through the air, like a penny dropping through water; the eventual crash, the wailing of my heart as I realized this was happening, really truly happening, and I couldn’t stop it.
Pieces were everywhere. I mean everywhere. Those tiny shards of glass scattered all over my house. I swept and swept, and still, I continued to find more sharp little triangles.
Even today, and it’s been just over a week. I get down on the floor to scrub, and feel a piercing in my knee. Where did that come from? Shoot, it’s another piece of glass. Just big enough to gouge my skin, just big enough to cause blood to dribble; streaks down my leg, bright red polka dots on my clean white floor.
I wonder how it is even possible that I can suddenly find these bits of glass clinging to my shirt, digging in to my chest, paining my heart.
I wonder if I will ever get all the pieces back together.
I just keep sweeping.