All Things Left to Shatter by Petur HK
The dinner is warm. It is leg of lamb, which means something was born and then died for this. The potatoes, unpeeled, are steaming next to it, billowing boxing gloves towards the quaint dining table chandelier above their heads. Also, the house is scheduled for demolition later this evening.
“I’ve been thinking we should get a fireplace,” Hjalte says, looking out the window at the backyard. “For Christmas, we could chop up the ash tree. The extra sunlight might even do the petunias some good.”
Somewhere, a dog barks. And slowly, the sun melts in through the window and spills across the table and the plates and cutlery. If Hjalte knew how to make gravy, that’s what he imagines it would taste like.
Liva spears a potato and holds it in her palm as she peels it with a knife. “It’s getting cold,” she says, gesturing towards the lamb, because who the hell gives a fuck about petunias?
“A good fire,” Hjalte continues, “I think is like a new car.” It sounds like something his dad might have said, so he continues the thought. “Sit down, close your eyes, and you never know where it might take you.”
Liva dumps the potato on her daughter’s plate. “Did it get late last night?” she says.
Mary is snapping on her phone with a boy. Mary works at the Burger King across town and does her homework in the drive-thru booth. The place had been robbed twice before she took the job. Mary is who Liva thinks of when she thinks of flowers.
“I don’t know,” Mary says. “Maybe.” She looks up to slice the potatoes her mother has peeled with a fork. “The TV was on again in the living room.”
It did that, the TV, turning on and off at random times of day, like a saddle that rides away on its own. Hjalte would be polishing his rock collection, or Liva would be fretting over bills, or Mary would be lazing in the windowsill, and then the TV would yawn to life behind them. It’s not like they couldn’t just turn it back off again, but you know—it was creepy. Easier to just hand it the living room.
Not that it mattered much. The remote vanished long ago, sunken into the depths of the cracks in the sofa. And the reception was crummy at best anyhow, staticky reruns of a skinny Will Smith and a wavy-haired Ted Danson threatening to spill out and consume the room 90s-pixel by 90s-pixel.
All the while, outside, a few feet above the driveway, the wrecking ball winds up and swings back, and the breeze holds its breath. The operator is called Wolfe. It is not a name he has given himself. And when the ball swings forward, the swoosh hardly stirs the gravel beneath before it roars into the walls of the living room.
That’s that. If you ask at the kitchen table, they will tell you no one noticed. If you ask the dog, it will tell you they were too busy trying not to.
Petur HK prefers trousers with pockets. He also translates fiction and teaches English and other flighty things in a place called Skive. His students call him Batman because the name his mother gave him is hard to curl your tongue around. His girlfriend calls him Peach. His real name means rock. Rocks have no pockets, and neither do peaches, but they’re, you know, good for other stuff. More of his work can be found in Hobart, Gulf Coast, and The Nervous Breakdown.
(Front page image via)