Brightly Colored Shards

Anna listlessly opened the door of the refrigerator. She nearly shut it again before she saw some plain yogurt. There, that would be enough. She felt weak, but everything in the sparsely-stocked fridge looked heavy and tasteless. Maybe a little yogurt would be alright. She pulled out the container and set it down on the counter, pausing before opening the cabinet door. Now a bowl. That’s all she needed. A bowl and a spoon. Her shaking hand reached for the brightly colored bowl. It was part of a set her grandmother had given her as a wedding present. “To make your mornings beautiful, like you,” she had said.  It was heavier than she remembered. She did not have a strong enough grip on it. It slipped. As it hit the ground, it shattered into tiny splinters which slid across the floor. They rang out. Louder and louder they rang. She hated it, but she couldn’t even lift her hands to cover her ears. Like people’s gossip, the ringing eventually faded. When it had stopped completely, she reached for another bowl and threw it to the floor.

She listened until the ringing again stopped and there was perfect, tranquil silence again.

“Anna?”

She started at her name. “When did you get home?” she asked the thin man in the doorway.

“Just now.”

She looked away, her pale cheeks showing a tint of red.

“Wait there, I’m coming to get you.”

Confused, she looked at him and then down at the floor. All around her bare feet were sharp shards of the bowl, covering nearly the entire floor space of the small apartment kitchen. Still wearing his sturdy work shoes from a contracting job, he took a step toward her. The pieces crunched.

“You’ll dent the linoleum,” she said absently.

“That doesn’t matter right now.” He took another step. Crunch.

“You explain it to the landlord then.”

“I will.” Crunch.

With another step, he reached the little corner where she leaned against the countertop. He bent down and lifted her in his arms above the colorful, dangerous fragments. She hid her face in his neck as the tears began to fall and her body began to shake. “I miss her!” she cried out loudly.

He stayed silent, but she could feel him swallowing and breathing more heavily as he made his way back to the hallway. He braced himself in the door frame as he tried to take off his shoes without loosening the grip on his dear burden. After a minute of twisting and tugging, his socked feet came free from the shoes embedded with debris and he walked up the stairs, past the now-useless child safety gate which for some reason had yet to be taken down, into the bedroom. He laid her down on the bed, kissed her, and whispered very low, “I miss her too.” He left her still crying.

On his way out, he looked a long time at the closed door across from theirs and then walked downstairs to get the broom, letting his feet fall heavily on each step.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28851730@N00/360491992″>bottles</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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