by kbk

Suddenly, he is older than his sister, and her smiling face in the photograph by his bed seems to him a mockery of every day of his life since she left. On impulse, he picks up the ornament and hurls it across the room to smash against the wall; almost before it has hit the ground he is kneeling over it, apologising again and again, to her and his parents and God and anybody who will listen. He is heartily grateful that nobody will come to investigate the noise -- sometimes they forget he no longer has a caretaker.

He gingerly picks up the bright splinters, carefully holding each one between finger and thumb as she taught him. But then, attention distracted, his hand trembling, he catches a finger on a sparkling edge and a bright drop of red blossoms just below the fingernail. He curses, once.

It is a few breathless moments before he realises that he stopped thinking -- a rare and precious occurrence. The glass has power over him, and that scares him; he is stepping away before he realises it.

The next day, he buys a new frame; the only remaining evidence is the mark on his hand.


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