Prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following sentence: I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.
Once again, you’ve made the Your Story contest a success! Thank you to everyone who participated in Your Story #62 (whether by entering, reading or voting).
Out of more than 400 entries, readers helped us pick “Raining Glass” by Jun Park as the winner. For winning, Park’s story will appear in a forthcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.
The winning entry:
by Jun Park
I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over. Everything sparkled. Nothing about it seemed fantastical. The world shook and the only thing I could hear was the plip plop of a leaky faucet. A broken vase lay on the ground, glass hiding between the folds of carpet. Pain pulsated from my knuckles, feeding up through my fist, and spreading across my knuckles.
Yet, for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to care.
My girlfriend lay limply on the ground, looking up at me, green irises swimming in a pool of crystal tears. There were so many fading lights, falling and crashing around us in a quiet storm. A pale hand cradled a fresh bruise. I knew without looking that the bruise on her clear white skin matched the one on my hand.
Anger dissipated to fear and shame. Fear of the monster in me, shame of the distrust now dripping off broken porcelain. I tried to approach her, but she flinched away from me. She couldn’t even face me. The world shattered into a million pieces, and everything became fragmented. The pieces of a non-existent ideal crumbled and fell away into nothing. My mouth felt dry, like I’d been walking in the desert for days on end. But I had to say something.
Say something, anything.
A strangled sob shook out of the small frame, hard to describe any other way than pained. Tremors shook through her like waves, like a bell being struck over and over and over again. I could feel our time slipping through my fingers like sand. But I knew, there was nothing I could do. Our relationship lay in a million fragments, never to be repaired by my hands.
It wasn’t long before the neighbors intervened. It all happened in flashes. Dirty looks, police, rustic metal bars. When I next saw the pseudo-skeleton, she wasn’t so broken. Her hair was hacked off into short tufts–she didn’t seem to miss it. Her skin was a rosy pink, clear, unblemished. A cold metal table separated us, in a sterile bland room. White walls, a camera, a lawyer.
She dropped all charges, but not without a restraining order.
I didn’t try to resist. The world crumbling away, her face dripping and I couldn’t see anything besides warped disfigured orbs. Words fell out of my mouth like blades, tearing and crawling out with nothing more to say than a simple approval. She knew I wouldn’t try to attack her again; the real message got across clearly.
The apartment was just the way we had left it. The only thing missing were her things: her perfume, the little origami collection, worn away shoes, large collections of makeup, all those indie CDs, even her small ankle-length socks. The apartment felt empty without her there, a few stray jeans, T-shirts and sweaters were all that remained.
The glass still sat scattered, slowly embedding itself into the carpet. The faucet was still broken.
I flexed my hands, scars stretched over my skin, threatening to tear open again. Still, no pain.
Living there became an arduous task; everything on that homey corner reminded me of her. The beat up organic market, the corner store we went to get our midnight snacks, the roof where we would hang out and talk about nothing for hours–everything. I threw away anything that reminded me of her, filling bags and bags of clothes, kitchenware, vanities. No more broken faucet, no more glass, no more her.
My goodbye was simple.
Everything that broke years ago still remained cracked, the lenses of my vision fragmented. Guilt became my companion, the monster that slept under my bed and woke me from nightmares, holding me as I sobbed into nothing. I scaled the familiar stairs to the roof, where some of my most favorite memories nested. Guilt followed me up the stairs, encouraging me, telling me that this was healthy. I didn’t bother arguing with him; we both knew Guilt was right. Ants crawled away on gray concrete; pill bugs sped away on darker roads; life moved on. I saw children loose balloons, heartbreak, daytime drunks, broken glass. Guilt patted me on the back. It’ll be better next time.
So I left behind everything and started the next life.