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Horse made of glass - Part 1
by Katerina Charisi
2017-05-21 10:32:05
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Horse made of glass – Part 1
The last time

With her hands on her sides, she looked at the things piled on the table.

“That’s all we have left”, she said in a low voice; each word taken out slowly like talking more to herself than anyone else, knowing that each word had already been told before. Her husband blew out the smoke and leaned back to the sink. He turned the tap, then he put the cigarette under the running water and it hissed; then he tossed the butt in the bin. He put a hand on his cheek and pressed hard. He moaned in pain.

“We’ll have to cope then”, he said in a harsh voice. “Improvise.”

She held her breath before letting it out loud. This was the last time she allowed this to happen.

“There’s barely enough of anything to get a proper meal done for all.”

He snorted.

“Like I said. Improvise.” The last word told in even more tense.

glasshorsse01_400She grabbed the things one by one and put everything back in the man-heighted cabinet, ignoring her husband’s tone. Boxes and bags half-full or almost empty of something. Some rice, maybe a cup of dry beans, even less oat flakes, paper boxes with green pasta, for the kids hated green pasta and picked the white and red ones to cook. Remnants and leftovers; that’s how she called the things composing their lives, left to right, stretching her arm to reach the far left side of the cabinet, holding back burning tears, swearing that this time was the last.

It’s the last time, god, I swear.

Her husband had nailed the left cabinet’s door shut, so the kids couldn’t reach anything in there and she stored all the things she didn’t want them to mess with. To be honest, this green painted man-heighted cabinet in the small kitchen of their little house was the only place she could store anything, plus a small shelf in the bathroom that was too small and too narrow to put anything else except their toothbrushes and toothpaste and a bar of soap.

The house walls were made of goat hair and straws and an outer layer of makeshift plaster; the kitchen was built much later and it was the only part of the house that had brick walls, so there wasn’t any other place around the house that maybe a shelf or even a painting or family pictures could be nailed on. Sometimes she thought she saw those whitewashed walls moving, narrowing and stretching and waving, or it was just the place’s emptiness that played tricks with her eyes.

So many years, and no one managed to make this place a little better, she had thought.

It was just this large cabinet, the only coloured thing in the house and the only place to store their things, food or detergents, nails or clippers, papers and pens. And he’d nailed it shut, “just in case” he’d said, “the boy turns curious for things he shouldn’t mess with”.

The boy.

It was always the boy. Like he was nameless. She guessed that was because her mother in law never heard her husband’s name over the boy. But that was a battle she had managed to win. Maybe couldn’t win any other battles with this family, but she’d won that. Though she never had thought that they, and by “they” she meant all of her husband’s people, would be so mean, that they would call her son “the boy” instead of his name.

The boy knew very well what hid behind the nailed cabinet’s door. A few nails were not enough to ease a child’s curiosity. He had climbed on a chair one afternoon his mom was taking a shower, the little one still a baby, sleeping in his crib, couple of years ago. He had taken everything in his hands, feeling each bottle’s soft plastic skin, each corner of the medicine’s paper boxes.

He hadn’t touched the medicine inside the boxes; he wasn’t a fool. He just took everything and read every label slowly and in a whispering voice: Ammonia. Dish Soap. Coconut Body Lotion. Magnesium Tablets. There were also a few tools; a small hammer and nails, screws and a French key wrench.

And behind them all, was the other paper bag, neatly folded, with the other things. He didn’t touch that either, for wasn’t sure he could fold it back as it was if he opened it, but he knew what was in there, too. Every time his mom had a few change to spare, she bought something of what she called “junk food”, but except for the bitter chocolate she gave him and later to the little one too, maybe with few almonds if she had managed to pick some in July, she never shared any of the rest. Neither the cookies with the tiny sugar crystals on top, nor the salty peanuts, not even the oregano chips. It was unfair, the boy had thought. But he never said anything anyway. He never complained about a thing. Maybe if he did, things would be easier for all. Maybe she could use the boy’s complains about their life to find strength and do something to change it. But how could he? That was the life he had met when he first faced this world and the people who were his parents. He couldn’t think of it as something bad or unusual or anything weird at all.

He was focused on reading the labels when his mom came in the kitchen, her hair dripping wet and locks stuck on her forehead and cheeks, towel on her hands.

“What are you doing up there?”

The boy almost tripped. He balanced himself on the chair and quickly grabbed the cereal box from the upper shelf on the right and jumped down.

“Nothing, just wanted to eat some of those”, he said and showed her the box. Her eyes narrowed and followed him as he pushed the chair back to the table and closed the cabinet’s door. He put some cereal in a bowl and went to the refrigerator. She moved aside to let him get the milk.

“Haven’t you eaten some already?”

The boy took the bottle with the milk and shook it without looking at her. “We’re running out”, he said and he heard his mom’s nose sniffing. Like anything else.

She left the kitchen without a word.

When the boy poured what was left of the milk in the bowl, he dared to look around and noticed the small pool of water on the floor, where his mom stood a few moments earlier.


Horse made of glass – Part 1 -Part 2 -Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6Part 7 -


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