Sara Blevins

Three Glasses

The third glass she dropped on the morning of the twelfth was filled with water. It seemed to take years to drop to the floor. Clumsily she clenched her fingers together and watched as the glass shattered daintily, unnaturally silent on the smooth tile. The water pressed eagerly through the toes of her sandals pooling like the folds of a rippling hem.

Finally, she bent to inspect the damage, her body unfolding slowly--elegantly. Shards of glass glinted deceptively placid within the pools of liquid which seemed a small ocean on her kitchen floor. She knew instinctively that the water disguised smaller more menacing crystal islands. As Oliva swept her eyes over the mess she felt impossibly tired, as though this required more effort than she could muster though she was neither lazy or old.

She reasoned as she pressed a towel into the liquid and felt it dampen her palm that she had produced an unaccountable tremor in her fingers. This was the only explanation for three broken glasses tallying up at the bottom of her trash bin. Hesitantly she took the next glass from her cabinet, sitting it firmly on the counter before pouring. She moved with a kind of reverance or a private determination that she would not break another. She could not break another.

She would have liked to have called for him to come and pour for her, to sit patiently as he settled the glass securely into her hands, palms up, waiting for him. But then there was the problem of naming him, of allowing the word to leap into the air, tremble and plummet heavier than a glass to the patterned tile. He was not there to ask, to call or answer. Perhaps he was never there.

Somehow she managed to carry the glass limply to her couch, to cross her legs and stare blankly into her television set. The televison brought news of romance and on every channel a man and a woman stared back at her as though startled. They seemed to be shouting at her. Why must you spy on us? What business is it of yours to witness our private happiness? She wondered if a desperate housewife over-analyzed a man's sarcastic comments? If she had conversations with herself? If she meticulously examined every word that was said, trying to find the connection, the horrifying significance behind a smirking dig or a backhanded compliment. She dreaded the cliche of this dead romance, the resounding stamp of something overdone, something we've all seen before. It wasn't like he was dead. It was nothing so serious as that. It was only that someday he would be dead, and he would do the dying without her. The man and woman on the screen went on loving without her. Since she could not bear to look into the over-bright screen, she glanced casually at the familiar wood grain of her coffee table. A perfect ring seemed etched into the corner, though hap-hazardly. There was nothing symmetrical about it. He had forgotten to use a coaster. Wood grain meant so little to him.

She remembered exactly the day that he had laughed at her and left the little bubbling imprinted ring as a reminder of his laughter. He had teased her, dared her to comment on his impropriety. And she had smiled also, weakly, as though pained. She heard the laughter ringing in the room above the noise of the television set until it too began to plummet. She struck out at her memory as though with her fists unwilling, unprepared to witness that laugh brittle as glass shattering on the floor. The sharp tingling of the telephone set her on edge. It sounded too much like the television set, a voice without a body, disconnected and empty. It occurred to her belatedly that she should answer the phone and she swam heavily towards the sound. Quickly she rehearsed the appropriate answers. Hello. Casually, somewhat breathlessly. In case, if only, in case.

The other end of the line was dead silence. She swallowed before warbling a distant "Hello," into the receiver. Her voice was strange almost girlish. Not casual. Not breathless. It seemed to take an abnormally long time for someone to answer. It was her sister on her best behavior. Her sister using the "I'm caring about you" voice. She smiled and then remembered she couldn't see her.

"Hey, everything's fine, Suze. Calm down," she soothed.

"I'm just worried about that bastard leaving you like that. You'd feel better if you'd get out of the house," Susan said.

Even this conversation, so innocently driven sounded rehearsed in her mind. Her sister had practiced these lines. She smiled politely at the television set and said, "Did you think you were the only one?"

"What?" Susan said.

She could hear the confusion in her voice. She shook her head as if to clear it. Things were getting so muddled, so claustrophobic in the house.

"Susan, I really don't think that's such a good idea right now," she said. Absently, she ran her fingers over the rim of her glass. Her fingernail dipped into a drop of water soaking the tip of her finger. She wiped it casually on the hem of her t-shirt and waited for what seemed like an eternity.

"Well, if you're sure." Susan said.

She couldn't think of anything to say that didn't sound cliche. So she said good-bye and hung up the phone. If it rang again, she would ignore it.

The silence was condensing in the air of the room. Heavy, rain-tasting, it made her long for a downpour in the small expanse of her living room. She glanced at the pool of water not completely evaporated on the kitchen floor. She shouldn't have left it still damp.

The television set continued its litany of sililoquies and one-liners. They seemed to be spoken in a language she didn't immediately understand, although every word was achingly familiar. She understood only in tones and undulations, no longer in words or sentences.

A movement to her left alerted her that she was no longer alone and she watched in gaping disbelief as he came striding through her door. He had so much presence. It had always been his gift.

"Liv, you left the keys in the door again," he said.

She nodded mutely as her brain struggled to measure him. His massive, familiar hands swallowed the papery keys as he gazed at her, his lips twitching with his loud, outrageous laughter.

"Look, I just came to get the last little bit of my stuff, then I'll be out of your hair," he sighed and turned away from her. He dropped the keys on the end of the coffee table and she watched them take shape, gain mass and form as they left his fingers and thudded against the wood grain. She could hardly bear to look at him. The television set was relentless. Suddenly they were reversed and the actors hid shy, curious glances at the events unfolding in her smallish living room. They were gaudy spectators taking lessons from her wooden limbs and flushed lips. He walked into the kitchen and surveyed the cabinets and counter.

"I didn't leave anything in here did I?" he said.

Deliberately she switched off the television set. She stood and carried the glass delicately to the kitchen counter, and when he turned again she was standing underneath him as though in the shade of a tall tree. He touched her shoulders with his hands and drew her close, comforting as he had always been. It was then that she felt the glass, the fourth of the day slipping from her hand. She grabbed for it catching the rim in her reflexive grip, saving it from plummeting to the ground to join the shimmering islands already below. She held onto that glass fiercely, looking at his face--touching but not touching. Then she quietly withdrew, gaining mass and volume and form as she slid from his fingers.

Sara Blevins is a graduate of Marshall University and is currently obtaining her Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. She is both a feisty writer and a quiet librarian. Her work has appeared in the literary magazines Ect. and Message in a Bottle. She continues to work and learn from Huntington, WV.