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by Lee Terati
“I brought this for you from Venice,” the man said, handing the woman a fragile-looking Christmas tree ornament. It was a half-globe of mouth-blown glass depicting a winter scene. Inside, tiny pieces of glass imitated snow on the ground, on which there stood a Santa Claus and a teddy bear, surrounded by two small Christmas trees. It was a lovely ornament.
“It’s beautiful,” the woman said, holding the gift with both hands.
“I bought it in the Murano factory,” the man said proudly. “It’s very fragile. And it was very expensive.”
It looked both fragile and expensive. Carefully, she handed the ornament back to the man. “You put it on the tree, then.”
Together they approached the already-trimmed tree. “It’s a beautiful tree,” the man said, and the woman nodded. It was only the second time in fifteen years she’d trimmed the tree without his help. The first time was the year before, after their break-up. She’d decided that she would have Christmas anyway, with or without him, and had thrown a tree-trimming party for her friends. The tree had looked just as lovely as before.
And this year, here he was, back from his trip to Italy and back into her life, bringing fragile and expensive gifts. She handed him a hook, telling him to make sure that the ornament was safely secured to the tree. He arched his eyebrows at her, as if telling her that he had trimmed many trees before this one. Then he chose a branch that looked firm enough, raised his hand and-
The crash of the ornament on the floor sounded like thunder in the living-room. She covered her mouth with her hand to muffle the cry of surprise and then looked at him. He was staring at the floor, where the ornament had shattered in many pieces, looking like scattered ashes.
“I guess I was…too tired,” he stammered, looking forlorn.
She didn’t know what to say, so she went to the kitchen to pick up a broom. As she was sweeping the fragments onto the dust pan, she couldn’t help likening the fragile ornament to their relationship.
She hoped it would last a bit longer.