by Diana Rowland
It didn't matter who'd left the safety-gate at the top of the stairs open. The result was the
same, the tragedy still there in twisted limbs and broken bones. But wherever the fault lay, it had
happened, and so she'd tried to fix the mistake and made an even bigger mistake. Guilt on top of
guilt. Had she been the one or not? It was too late to ever know for sure, since Mark's memories
of it were gone. How could he have a memory of something that would never happen?
The cup crashed to the floor, spraying over-sweet tea and sharp shards of fine china
across the blue-flowered pattern of the linoleum. It had only been a momentary lack of
concentration--but then that's what had caused all of the problems in the first place.
This time her gaze had been intent on the hummingbird whirring green and blue wings at
the bright red plastic feeder she'd put out the day before. That long ago day before. She barely
remembered that yesterday anymore, it had been so long since she'd lived it. But her thoughts
had been scattered as she'd tried to gather herself for yet another go at getting it all right, and she
hadn't paid attention to where the table was, and had placed her cup it half off the edge.
The hummingbird was right. She remembered that much. She wasn't sure if it mattered,
but she knew by now it was vital to try and do everything exactly the way she had before and try
and reduce random changes.
But breaking the cup hadn't been part of it. The ruins of the cup that had once been her
grandmother's still quivered in the aftermath of the destruction, shards slowly spinning to a stop.
She heard the water running in the bathroom. Mark would be finished with his shower soon, and
he'd come into the kitchen. If he found her cleaning up a mess of broken porcelain, that would
throw everything off.
Carol looked down at the Rorschach blot of brown tea on the pale blue flowers of the
floor. She'd have to do it again. Just a small one though, not even a minute long. Just long
enough to make sure she didn't break the cup. Better to do it now than wait and see if breaking
the cup messed up all the rest. There were only so many times that she'd be able to go through
this. Only so many times she could stand to go back and start over.
Soon it will work out though, she told herself. Soon I'll get it right. Soon I can end this.