Jen DeSantis’s Picture Choice: 1
Tom poured her another glass of wine and waited. It was no use trying to rush her into speaking at this point. He saw the panic bubbling just below the thin surface of her well-put together face. Any pressure and she might crack.
Katie traced her finger around the edge of the glass. Slowly circling the lip once, twice, three times. Then she looked up at him.
His pulse quickened automatically in response to her piercing gaze. She was debating something; probably piecing together some words for a question she thought might scare him away. She ought to know by know that she couldn’t do that, but she always forgot when she was in this kind of mood. She picked up the glass and sipped quietly, her eyes never leaving his.
“Growing up, my mother had a set of wine glasses that she kept on display,” she said. “They looked exactly like bubbles and sat on the most impossibly thin stems. The only time she brought them out was when important company came. And when Martin and I weren’t anywhere around. She loved those perfect glasses.”
“They sound pretty,” Tom said, amazed by where her mind might be going this time.
“They were that. But more than that, they were special. One day, Martin and I were playing, and for some reason I decided I needed to use one of the glasses. I was pretending to be a witch or a priestess or something and I needed a special glass in which to hold my potion.”
“Oh shit,” he breathed.
“Yep. It broke in half a minute flat. But not shattered. It just cracked into like four pieces. So I had hope, you know? I told Martin I’d fix it. I was about ten and sure enough of my gluing skills.”
She paused and sipped again.
“So what happened?” Tom realized he was on the edge of his seat.
She smiled and a devilish light rose in her eye. She knew he was intrigued and that always seemed to please her to no end. She brushed her fingertips against his and sighed.
“Well, I ruined it, of course. All the seals were bumpy and gross. They didn’t match up right at all. But I put that thing back in the cabinet and waited. Mother cried when she saw it. But much later… much, much later … we sort of laughed about my foolish attempt to fix something that had once been so perfect and beautiful. She laughed, but I knew she was still sad about what had become of the glass.”
Katie paused again and when she looked back up, her eyes were so filled with hurt and sadness that he snatched up her hand and kissed it immediately.
“What’s wrong, Katie?”
“Do you ever think a person might be something like that glass? So pretty and perfect, but once someone breaks them, well … then they’re just fucked for good?”
Tom sighed. He massaged the soft spot between her thumb and forefinger. If she was in the right mood, he could almost make her purr with just that gentle touch. But not that night.
“I read a story once about Japanese pottery makers. They would repair broken pottery with bits of melted down gold. The cracks became the most beautiful parts.”
“Kintsukuri,” she murmured.
Of course she knew the word. She so often knew the right word. “I think people are a lot more like those pieces of pottery.”
She smiled sadly. “I’m pretty fucked up though. You know that, right?”
And there they were. The words she was so scared to say. The words she feared would drive him away.
“Sure I do,” he replied with a shrug of his shoulders.
She looked down quickly, red blossoming on her cheeks. To him, all of the things she saw as imperfections were just different facets of the person he loved. But she didn’t see it that way. She’d been programmed, after years of being told she was broken, to think of those parts as ugly scars that needed hiding. He decided no more.
“I know you’re fucked up, Katie,” he said softly. “I’m fucked up. Hell, every one of us is fucked up in some way. But that doesn’t make me sad or make me love you less. I’m not in love with you in spite of your cracks; I love you because of them. They’re part of what makes you you. And I love all of that.”
She looked at him wide-eyed for a moment. And for just a moment, he didn’t breathe. He didn’t know if she would laugh or cry or run away. Then, all at once, the sun seemed to break out across her face and she tugged on his hand.
“I think you might have just changed a little of my sloppy, super glue repairs into gold.”
“It’s always been gold to me, baby. It’s just getting you to see it that way.”
She kissed him then, with her wine-sweet lips and warm breath, and he said a little prayer of thanks that despite her gnawing fears she always came to him when she felt most broken inside. Bit by bit, he could see her putting herself back together. And if she needed him for some of the heavy lifting, he was happy to oblige.
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Jennifer DeSantis is a Horror and Paranormal Author. She lives near Philly with her family. Tweet her at @JenD_Author