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Broken

Words: Sarah Jayne Fell

I offered to help you peel hard-boiled eggs earlier. You said no, I’d break them like I did last time. Last time, I said, the eggs were over-cooked. Stuck to their shells. It wasn’t my fault. I don’t like peeling eggs anyway.

Last Christmas, I gave you glasses. Martini glasses, four of them. Blue with see-through stems. You broke two in the kitchen sink and said it was a mistake. The kitchen sink and I know better, but I bought you new ones anyway.

When I was young, perhaps in class one, a boy at school broke his leg. He’d fallen from a tree. He got a cast and crutches, had to sit with his leg up on a chair; we all learnt the words Plaster of Paris. Everyone signed his cast.
At home we had a big tree with white flowers that only bloomed in winter. For a while I used to climb it when I got home from school and jump out. I always landed on my feet.

Once, my mother’s friend brought her nephew to my birthday party. He was older than me. His name was Vincent or Quentin – a name that sounded funny to me, and I could never quite remember. He wanted to look for frogs in our garden. I hated frogs. But I didn’t tell him that and helped him catch one anyway.
I was in love with him for a long time after that. I don’t think I saw him again.

On my sister’s birthday we went to the aquarium. We saw a dolphin show and went to watch the sharks being fed. My dad lifted me up so that I could see into the tank. I thought he was going to throw me in and cried the rest of the day.
This is my earliest memory of him. He says he doesn’t remember.

Three years ago I left you. I’ve never cried so much before or since. I went to bed with other boys but missed you, and so you took me back. We’re better now but you’re a Scorpio; Scorpios forgive but never forget. And you say you love me less.

© Sarah Jayne Fell

Written as part of a final Creative Writing portfolio, ‘11 Snapshots: An Exploration of Flash Fiction and Prose Poetry’, as part of an Honours Degree in English completed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban in 2007. It was subsequently published in the American Literary Magazine ‘The Laundry Room’.