Broken Glass

Isabel Magnotta
One summer Saturday morning, I saw the remnants of a car theft strewn across the roots of a gnarled oak tree near the Gates of Prayer cemetery. The window had been utterly obliterated from the outside, leaving small glass fragments as the only evidence of the car’s existence, the only evidence of the car's life. 

The car’s glass pieces had nestled itself into the curve of the oak’s roots for protection, like a corpse tucks itself back into the embrace of earth. They shone in the morning light between the tubers, like delicate crystals from some shattered chandelier, fragmented and orderless. They cast a torrent of color, oranges and blues and violets, on the dusty, dull ground. A spilled water color box, a work of art both beautifully natural and unnatural.  

I lightly pressed the fleshy, whorled pad of my index finger against one of these pools of glass. The shard’s sharp corners dug into my finger, and I picked up a single, coarse piece, scrutinizing its textures with the nerves of my skin.  

How interesting, I thought, that the stolen car chose to be remembered like this. Like, it chose to be remembered by what was left rather than what it was.  

Like the thief asked the car, “When I take you, how do you want to be remembered?” 

And the car replied, “Make my glass remain, hard and brittle and crystalline. I want to be remembered for my most beautiful parts.”  

Sort of like humans, in a poetic sense.  Like, Death pointed to the first human with a skeletal index finger, pressing the icy bone against where the heart would have been on the first human. 

"Your heart is an hourglass, and soon the sand shall run out," Death said stolidly, "and I will take you. But as a gift, I shall let a part of you remain, a final memory. How do you wish to be remembered?"

The first human began to ponder this. A difficult question, indeed. How to be remembered? 

"Well?" asked Death. 

"Make my bones remain,"  assuredly answered the first human. "Turn them alabaster, but make them brittle. I want those to be my lasting memories when I die, because I want to be remembered for my most beautiful parts."