When objects break, we stick them back together. We hope they were as good as they once were, and when we can’t fix it with enough effort, we find another way. Odd ways. Stupid ways. Low tech ways. Different ways. It gives us that fuzzy feeling of accomplishment. But cracks remain.
The odor of a cut lawn mixed with gasoline. A fire made from spruce or chalk. Ammonia, the pungent whiff when you crush an ant between your fingers.
But when people break. There’s something more. We can’t be fixed. We can heal.
That’s what I kept saying in my head. We can heal, we can be better, we can pull ourselves back together.
So, why was it that my daughter couldn’t? She was human, right? She could heal. She’d have scars, but she could heal.
She just had to open her eyes and raise her arms. Glide her fingers across my cheek. So we could return home together.
I couldn’t feel anything after the car exploded. The raging inferno was uncontrollable and spread for miles. A gash in my side, and I still pulled us from the hole, her nimble fifteen year old body, almost lifeless, in my arms. An alleyway was as far as I got when I dropped down to my knees. The snow melted under my knees and almost chilled me to the bone.
I was too cold to think. To dead to feel the pain in my side.
Her head was nestled on my lap. It was every Sunday in one moment. Wake up, breakfast, hours of cartoons. But she wasn’t looking up like she always did. She wouldn’t smile or yell or laugh or anything. White flesh riddled with tears and ruby. No arms or legs, barely a torso, body broken in a pile of snow.
Come back. It was all I could think. I knew she wasn’t. But, I tried because, deep down, I hoped that would work. Come back because daddy said so. Then poof. Everything would reverse. Her body would gather its pieces, and we’d be back in the car, heading to dinner before I fucked everything up.
It wasn’t going to happen. The logical side of me wouldn’t shut up. It recognized a corpse.
The snow stopped. Even the sky stopped crying. Nothing in the world but me.
My heart hurt, my side hurt, everything hurt more than any other moment in my life.
I could hear solemn music. A piano with a somber tune, her favorite tune. A violin strung and played in a perfect manner, her strong suit.
I screamed my lungs to death, clenched her body the same as always when giving her a hug, and wept until it burned, screaming until I thought I would pass out. Kind of hoped I did. Not everything was fixable, I kept thinking. Not everything.
The moon shifted and brought an unwanted warmth. It all melted together like the rain of a new season.
The marble of a Greek statue. Concrete stone in the pores.
Everything fell apart and blurred, my arms covered with blood, my hair frozen to my neck, stomach ripped open–my blood mixed with hers. For one last moment, I felt her heat coil around my neck, her soul knitting me one last scarf as she tried to reassure me.