writing exercise #27

Prompt: Write a still life of a scene where something just happened. Describe either before or after the scene:

—————————————

The crash of glass on glass. A mirror, spiderwebbed. Chrysanthemums splayed across the rug. Rain pelting in through the open window. She could smell the electricity.

She used to love that – the way a storm could make the hair on her arms rise, the lightning splintering the desert sky. But that was before. Now she wished the storm away. Envisioned white sands and turquoise waters. Some sort of sparkly drink tasting of cucumber and garnished with lemon slices.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. She shuddered despite efforts to still herself. Broken glass kaleidoscoped the lights outside. Taxis honked. She waited for the trembling to pass. The vein in her forehead throbbed, throbbed again, stopped. A slow inhale… one… two.. three… four… hold… two… three… four… exhale. She looked around at her apartment assessing the damage. Her grandmother’s floor-length mirror, destroyed. The rug, soaking, but cleanable. The vase she’d lovingly packed home from a trip to Italy, history. The flowers, well, they were doomed to die anyway.

The broken glass and the increasingly dumping rain concerned her. The rest could wait. She lifted herself from the couch, stepped to the window, held her breath against the storm, inched the window down until the frame tapped the sill, eased the latch into place.

The shards that once served as a lovely container for the fresh flowers she insisted on glistened. Fetching the broom seemed too ambitious, so she lifted the rug edge with her foot, flipped it over top the broken glass. She might trip on the rug later, but at least nothing would slice her open during a midnight trip to the bathroom. Her bedroom stood all the way on the other side of the apartment, so she sunk back down on the couch, tugged the afghan from the couch’s back over her body. She closed her eyes.

A trick for insomnia, she had learned, was to rewind her day. To think backwards over each thing that happened, the idea being a person would fall asleep before reaching, “I woke up this morning.” Reliving the events of the past hour didn’t appeal to her, but if she could get through them to a more peaceful place, perhaps sleep would allow her entry.

I pulled the blanket over me, she thought.

I laid down on the couch, she thought.

I kicked the rug over the broken glass, she thought.

I closed the window, she thought.

I breathed slowly, she thought.

I thought about a beautiful island, she thought.

I could smell the storm, she thought.

I came back to myself, she thought.

I was sobbing, she thought.

I threw the vase at the mirror, she thought.

I screamed into the phone, she thought.

He mocked me, she thought.

I told him, I hate this game, she thought.

He asked me to name 10 women who would have him, she thought.

I answered the phone, she thought.

I shouldn’t answer the phone, I thought.

I saw his name light up my screen, she thought.

My phone rang, she thought.

I wrote about how stupid this relationship has been, she thought.

I thought about how stupid this relationship has been, she thought.

He hung up on me, she thought.

I told him to fuck off, she thought.

He told me he’d been invited to Puerto Rico by another woman, she thought. A petite, sporty woman.

I told him I loved him, she thought.

He told me he was sad, that no one loved him, she thought.

I asked how he was, she thought.

He said hello in that way he says hello when he feels life has defeated his best attempts to be amazing, she thought.

I saw his name light up my screen, she thought.

My phone rang, she thought.

I thought about how stupid this relationship has been, she thought.

Can’t make it, she remembered.

I had a new text, she thought.

My phone dinged, she thought.

I came home from the store, she thought, dumped out the groceries on the counter: noodles, peanuts, cilantro. I was going to make him dinner, she thought.

I stopped at the grocer’s, she thought. I wanted to make him dinner. I wanted to break up with him. I wanted him to love me. I thought if I made him dinner, things would be easier. That was stupid. Breakups should take place in neutral territory. Declarations of love shouldn’t be contrived. What I wanted didn’t relate to the reality of what I had. Which was a lousy boyfriend.

I exited the subway, she thought.

I stumbled when that excessively tall German crashed into me, she thought.

Someone was eating curry on the train, she thought. The smell pervaded the train. Normally aloof faces screwed into expressions of annoyance. No one wants to smell anything on the train, she thought. We have a tacit understanding: engage no senses other than sight and sound and only those when necessary.

I left work and entered the subway and got on the train, she thought, bored with how long this was taking.

I worked on TPS reports all day, she giggled.

Be serious, she thought.

You’ll be awake all night, she thought.

She hated him, she thought.

She loved him, she thought.

She didn’t care either way, she thought.

Fuck, she’d blown the exercise, she thought.

Where was I?

Left work.

Before that?

Worked.

Lunch at the Greek place. It had a name, a long, hard-to-pronounce name and even though they all liked to think they were clever and worldly, they all defaulted to calling it “the Greek place.”

She’d had an imaginary conversation with him, she thought, one in which she asked the questions and he’d answered them.

They’d argued about politics. She was pro gun-control. He was pro-gun.

They’d gone to breakfast.

“Let’s get breakfast,” he’d said.

I saw his name light up my screen.

My phone rang.

I’d been

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