City of Glass

The first time I really recall it happening went something like this:

I was dozing easily in bed on a cold autumn Monday morning, waiting for the alarm clock to buzz me fully awake and prod me into some kind of activity. I could hear the wind keening loudly outside, occasionally slamming against the side of the building and shivering the window in its ageing wooden frame. Then, a small gunshot crack, a tiny sharp noise that roused me and brought me up into a sitting position against the pillows. A sound not unlike the breaking of glass.

I got out of bed, walked naked to the window and opened the ugly curtains that my wife had left behind but I'd never really liked. Outside, the street was still dark, empty, and somehow wet-looking despite the dryness of the season. I focused closer, on the glass of the window, and at last noticed the two-inch zigzag crack.

A stone blown by the terrifying gale-force winds, maybe even the branch of a tree torn down in the gusts and sent crashing against my house in the night. Then I gave the matter no more thought, and  washed and dressed for work.

Sitting in the car in the customary traffic jam on my way to the office, I spotted a small star-shaped hole in the windscreen. Grit sent spinning by the wheels of a truck. A pebble thown or kicked by some passing child. Nothing out of the ordinary. Everything in the world was calm and collected, just like my thoughts. I could not afford for it to be any other way, not if I wanted to keep my job, the house, the many debts that my decamped wife had collected like so many stray cats before her unannounced departure.

After struggling through the slow-moving traffic I finally arrived at work. The pavement around the public telephone box outside the office block was carpeted in small safety glass shards of the booths own empty windows. Nothing new in vandalism, I thought, still unwilling to put together the pieces to complete the whole skewed picture.

I had a minor disciplinary meeting scheduled with my boss at 10:15 that morning - nothing really; just a ticking off for my tardiness. As I stood trying to look sober and apologetic and drinking cheap instant coffee in her newly refitted office, the main picture window shattered. Wide fissures suddenly and unaccountably appeared before my eyes, travelling diagonally across the clear pane, and the glass just fell apart into four big triangular pieces.
Gary McMahon