She was washing the dishes before bed, as was her usual routine, when it happened.
Just sponge on one side, her hand on the other, and in between them the glass gave up. It wanted no more, could take no more, of the pressure it was under.
Because of all the bubbles, there was hardly a sound when the one piece became many, so Caroline was quite shocked to see all the iridescent fragments falling into the sink.
She was even more shocked, however, at the tightness in her throat that grew as she picked between dirty cutlery for the shards of broken pink. It was just an old wine glass. It wasn’t even a particularly nice one. She’d gotten several of them 70% off at an after-Valentine’s sale at Target a year ago. (Caroline suspected they hadn’t sold because they were that old rainbow-pink that was very popular during the 70s, and today’s youngens were already reliving the 80s; drinking Blue Lagoons out of Hawaiian highballs. As The Swan’s lead bartender, it was her job to know these things.)
She’d tucked one, the now broken one, into her own cupboard, among the vintage glasses she’d saved from various high end bar closings she’s been privy too from the grapevine. It was clearly one of the lessers, but she liked having a truly girly one among all her classy pieces. Sometimes a gal just needs that.
The others she tucked into her gift box that stood in her closet waiting for holidays. Throughout the year she’d pull one out for an appropriate occasion:
One for her sweet coworker’s baby shower- filled with chocolate and tucked between cute onesies with a note, “I’ll come hold him whenever you need to fill this up!”
Another to her friend on a birthday with a bottle of Cab Sav and a plate of Caroline’s famous lemon squares because calories just don’t count on your birthday. That’s what her Nanna always said.
The last one she’d sent out just a couple months ago. A rainy afternoon had come through, and she’d felt a familiar pull in her chest that told her Calliope, her twin on the other side of the country, was having a rough time. Caroline didn’t need to know why, she just needed to help. Calliope liked dark, heavy duty glasses, stuff that could topple over while she worked on her sculptures. But this shiny pink thing would remind Calliope of her feminine side and her feminine sister, and that would make them both happy. So it was wrapped in an old t-shirt, and sent to the other coast.
Caroline liked the idea that when she drank out of her cheap pink wine glass, she was drinking with those friends, and all the other strangers that loved fun gaudy drink ware.
It wasn’t the fancy affair glass, it was the quick-grab, non-occasion glass. It was the glass that came out on Thursday nights when she wondered around the house thinking about redecorating. It’s what she drank out of when she was having an furious drink and didn’t want to have to politely set something fragile down in her own damn house. Or when she needed a soak in the tub on Mondays after a long weekend shift. So somewhere along the way, the glass had taken on a sort of prominence in its commonalty.
But there was no use crying over spilled milk, right? And a gallon of milk cost a dollar more than that glass had. So the tightening in her throat was probably just because she was so tired. And the water gathering in her eyes was certainly from the fight she’d had with Neal earlier. Or maybe she had a migraine coming on. None of it could have to do with the shards of a silly cheap glass sitting in her fingers.
Since that wasn’t why, Caroline let the tears fall as she picked through the soap bubbles to retrieve each sharp fragment. She allowed herself to gasp dramatically when one of the pieces cut her finger, even though it happened so many time through working up the restaurant ladders that she was pretty sure her fingerprints had actually changed.
Staring at the remnants of the glass in the trash can, she knew Calliope would’ve been able to turn the bits into something artsy. Caroline briefly considered rescuing them from the can to attempt doing art herself, but she’d never had the skills of her sister, and she’d just be sad to see the happy pink turned into junk.
The whole ordeal warranted wine. She finished the rest of the dishes in record time, then stomped over to the wine rack mounted in the dining area, selecting a bottle at random. Returning to the kitchen for the screw-key, she had the foil and cork removed in one smooth motion like an angry ballerina. But when she flung open the cupboard for a vessel, she didn’t know what to reach for. Did this count as an occasion? Or did one of her fancy glasses get demoted to the new casual spot? The big blue vintage? A be-speckled flute? The crystal birthday spout? One of the sets? Nothing felt quite right. Caroline closed the cupboard door in defeat.
But something about Calliope and the art piped back up again in her head, so she opened the next cabinet. The tears finally slowed as her hand wrapped around the thick clay of a spotted gray mug. It was an ugly creature. She’d found it on a shelf of oddities when visiting the warehouse of artists her sister worked in. Apparently it was their Oopsie-Shelf. Like a “so ugly you have to show it off” wall. The mug tilted to one side, the handle half folded in on itself. And since it had also fallen against the side of the kiln, the glaze hadn’t set correctly, leaving part of the mug practically ragged. It made Caroline laugh so much, the artists had insisted she take it with her.
And what good is being a bartender that knows all the rules of drink ware if you don’t occasionally break them? A bent mug could hold Merlot just as well as any glass, and far better than a broken one.
So she filled the mug up to its oddly shaded, uneven little brim, and went to turn the bath knob as hot as it would go. Somewhere, she was drinking with friends again. She was sure of it.
Shatter (verb): 1. Break or cause to break suddenly and violently into pieces. 2. Upset (someone) greatly.
If you’ve been reading along, you know I love the significance we can assign to objects (Today I am Foretaste for example). I mean, just think about heirlooms! There’s stuff, and then there’s STUFF, ya know?
I actually did shatter the glass in this story this morning. But I would like to again point out that no, I do not see myself as Caroline (or any of these characters*) although as a writer I do have that huge flaw of often putting myself in my characters’ shoes and visa versa. But trust, Caroline makes much more calculated life choices than I do, and can mix a much better drink 🙂
I was not super sad about it, just a little sad, but I did think about it for a second, and it made me think about my story Today I am Brew because these are both kinda of dealing with our feelings on the outside rather than on the inside, which is the opposite of what we do a lot of the time. So I guess you could say this story is kinda the baby of Foretaste and Brew, in a way?
Also, this story is meant to be able to stand alone, but if you enjoy Caroline, I’d love for you to learn more about her and the rest of those that work or enjoy librations at The Swan by starting back at Today I am Effervescent!
Happy reading! And cheers!
*yes even that one. That one you’re thinking of? Also not me. But thank you for the compliment!