She exercises great control and executes true care when in her home. Everything is meticulously in its place and not a fleck of dust in sight. Others marvel at her patience and some call in her obsessive tendencies. The psychiatrists on the other hand term it to be her only form of control in an uncertain life.
So, when the vase falls to the ground, the distance between her hands and the porcelain figure is too great. This vase of cherry blossoms and a Japanese spring she witnessed with her family is falling. The world has fallen quiet and the hair on the back of her neck stand alert. Her eyes go wide as the vase falls to its demise. And then it’s done.
At first she can’t breathe and the sound of the shatter continues to ring in her ear, every shard a lament. When she does gain control of her senses, she walks closer barefooted and crouches where every piece makes an intricate pattern on the floor, a constellation of broken pieces mirroring a life that she has always identified as her own.
Her body is numb to the pain of the shards digging into her bare legs, a fact she chooses to ignore before a sob escapes her mouth and she has to place a hand to her lips to control the wail threatening to escape. The hiccups are on the way and she can’t remember what her therapist told her to do in such a situation. She had promised her that such a situation would never occur again and so the coping mechanism would not be needed. So, how did she miscalculate something so important?
She can hear voices now whispering, broadcasting her failures at the simplest of things.
The word breaks her every time it’s uttered and instead of the vase it’s her that’s falling to the ground, slowly plummeting to her doom.
And then they’re all standing before her, picking each piece, one by one and depositing them before her. Her mother is smiling, her eyes crinkling at the corners. Her father is smiling, his moustache lifting like wings. Her sister is smiling, a mischievous glint in her eyes. They make a new pattern on the ground, a constellation that no longer looks like a black hole she could fall into – a web that Charlotte even couldn’t call her own.
Her mother whispers before she kisses her temple. Her father squeezes her shoulder and her sister just laughs, that melody she could never forget even if she tried. She wipes the tears from her face till her family no longer stands before and carefully starts collecting the shards.
She wants control on even the smallest of things because deep down she knows that she couldn’t have done anything to prevent what happened to her family. And yet she replays every scene from that unfaithful day, pressing pause at each point that she wishes she could have done differently. What if she’d woken up early? Gotten out of bed from the other side? Prayed the night before?
But even she knows, or at least tries to know that sometimes what’s broken should remain broken and there are times that no amount of glue can stick what was fated to be apart. Even if she had them tethered to her, tried to control an outcome with the hope that it could be changed, it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Being powerless is a part of life and no matter how much you confine yourself to a controlled environment; a shatter is all it takes to open your eyes to the reality before you.