Contest #240 shortlist ⭐️



This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

There are shards of glass in my face cream. The first time I used it, I didn’t notice until it was too late, and my fingertips had massaged the glass into my skin. It was only when I pulled back my hand and saw the flecks shining that I realized. 

You broke the thick jar weeks ago. It was an accident, and I don’t care about objects, and I wouldn’t have been upset anyway. But you were upset. You don’t like making mistakes. It’s not part of the written character. 

 I can see you there on the floor scraping the remaining stuff into a different container. To salvage what was left. Economical. But you underestimated the damage caused by the jar's fall. How much broken glass can spread and stick and overpower the floor and objects around it. You sweep, and you sweep but you’ll still find missing pieces years later. I stepped on some forgotten ones in the bathroom. I didn’t tell you that. 

I sing the lyrics without playing the song. I sing to no one, I am the only person in the car. 

But no more apologies. No, no more apologies. 

The confidence in my voice is stupid and untrue.  

It is true that I am so very tired. And I am sick and ill today. I was yesterday, and the day before. And I’ll feel it tomorrow too. 

The glass is there. Every time I use the cream I get more of it. There was a night in which it left a scratch above my eyebrow. I found it hilarious. I could not stop laughing. I imagined running to your room to show you. To reveal that, yes, yes, I’m not crazy after all, the glass really is there! 

You would gaze at the scratch and inspect it. And then you would tell me that the cut came from something else. You had been sure no glass was mixed in. You were almost positive. Your process was too exacting for that. 

And, in your reasonable assessment, if there was glass, it was only one piece. A fluke. There would be no others in the cream, you'd tell me. I should keep using it, it was fine. 

 I was just paranoid. I’m paranoid a lot. And I’m usually mistaken in my assumptions. 

You see, in this day and age everything we say is subject to a google search. It’s a new kind of oppression those of us who are frequently absent minded find ourselves subject to. 

I continue to use it, the cream. Frozen in a cycle of ritualistic atonement. It’s a habit of mine. It’s a quality in my character I’m trying to edit out. All attempts have so far proved unsuccessful. 

I took some tweezers and extracted a particularly annoying shard. At work I run my fingers over the places which are painful, and wonder why I can’t seem to focus on the task at hand. Why I am sometimes listless, and other times irritable. 

Maybe I’ll leave it, the glass. Stop tweezing it out. That way if my face is ever touched by a man again, he and I will both suffer. You’d like that. 

Driving at night has gotten easier. Because of the new windshield. The glass is clean and unmarked and transparent. Despite the winds outside, I feel safe. The barrier between my stinging face and the outside is solid.  

My car is pushed while I drive to the lake. To the right one moment, and to the left the next.  

No one is here this time of night, and we’ve all been warned of how dangerous it is. Not for people, but for our cars. There are ghouls in the bushes waiting to come slash through your windows and trunk. They can pinch your catalytic converter in sixty seconds. And then poof, you’d be stranded at the lake. 

I can’t walk around like I used to. I don’t want to spend the night here. I might be sad, but I’m still afraid of the ghouls. Even though that’s morally wrong. I should talk to them, give them some money, befriend them all. Like the one who attacked me last year.

I should be thankful to him. Without his fist, I wouldn’t have my new windshield. Sure, it was frightening. When I cleaned the blood off my car from where he’d tried to punch through, I found pieces of his hand in the glass and I cried. Not from fear of the flesh, but because I felt terribly for him. Roaming the streets with all that glass sunk into his hand. Which was probably broken. He was a lost soul, out of his mind. 

 He was so angry, it was mystifying. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that. I think a person needs a substance, or a crossed wire to get there. I remember watching him, amazed by his rage. Amazed at the creativity of slurs and threats he was able to articulate. He told me exactly what he thought of me, and what he was going to do to me when the glass was broken. Direct. But he couldn’t get through the glass. I drove off. 

Instead of walking out on the pier, I have to settle for gazing out while sitting on the hood of my car. If you were here, you’d be delighted by the force nature is exerting. I'm intimidated by it. 

Sparkling flecks of light dance on the water as it's swirled by the wind. Air feels like it is coming from all sides. It’s a different kind of sting than I’ve grown accustomed to. Coming in through my nose, it’s almost pleasing. 

A broken liquor bottle is whirling around the parking lot in a circle. Like spin the bottle, it stops and then spins again. It stops and faces me. It’s slammed against an overflowing trash can and shatters. 

It feels furious now, the wind. Carrying rage, like that man who punched my windshield. Mad at nothing in particular, but ready to take it out on anything. And we are the easiest targets, things like me. 

Light as a feather, my car and I are almost lifted from the ground and then set back down again. I close my eyes and click my heels. I’d let it take me away, if it wanted to. 

And then it does. It whips so hard it carries me. It whips so hard the glass in my face is thrashed out and away. It sweeps me up, and whispers a cold secret I've heard before but often forgotten. A secret about me. It doesn't change me. It reminds me. The face cream belongs in the garbage.

March 04, 2024 20:22

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Story Time
05:58 Mar 21, 2024

I think this interpretation of the prompt was really fantastic. I agree that the details were stunning. Some real art in the line.


Diamond Keener
16:41 Mar 21, 2024

Thank you so much for reading, and for your kind words. Much appreciated!


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John Rutherford
18:20 Mar 15, 2024

Well done.


Diamond Keener
19:44 Mar 15, 2024

Thank you John!


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Mary Bendickson
16:05 Mar 15, 2024

Congratulations on shortlist. Will get back to read later. A thing for glass and wind. Cream did belong in garbage.


Diamond Keener
17:02 Mar 15, 2024

Thank you Mary!


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Alexis Araneta
14:58 Mar 14, 2024

Very interesting submission. I love your use of detail. Great job !


Diamond Keener
18:33 Mar 14, 2024

Thank you so much, Stella!


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