A snap. Audible, no, probably not. But tenable, real. Crack. The sound that comes when you break. I know. I broke two days ago. It was afternoon, or evening, I’m not certain. Snapped from everything. I was a leaf, all else a branch—a tornado snapped our connecting twig, and I was swept up. I don’t know where I am now. Nor what. Certainly no longer a leaf.
Lauren is here. She too is broken. She says that when she broke she heard it. Not a snap, though, more a shredding, _shrkt_. It is telling that there is no accepted onomatopoeia for this sound. It is much worse than a snap. A broken bone or a split abdomen. The first is easy to imagine. The second: what does it sound like? Like Lauren breaking. She’s beautiful, like a Gorgon. You look at her and turn to stone, then she kicks you and you shatter. Crash, crumble, crumble.
She is talking. I told her once her mouth looked like a clam. She put her earring in her mouth and made weird noises. Oysters make pearls, I said, and she stopped and put her earring back in. This is before we broke, either one of us. Now she talks and I think I can make out a few words. Iran, paleontology, severance. But we broke apart, radiating from the center. No wonder I can’t understand.
Once she chased me through tall grass. The sky was huge that day, dense and cumbersome. The grass was up to my chest. I ducked, out of sight. At night we picked ticks off each other. We drank guava nectar and shouted curse words and put the ticks in the fridge, in little plastic baggies. If we broke the doctor could tell us it was Lyme disease. It isn’t Lyme disease.
But all mollusks make pearls she said three days later. Not just oysters. Theirs are best but not the only ones. She pressed the trigger. The rifle punched her shoulder. The last shot. She missed the target entirely. It zoomed towards us. She had hit the bulls-eye three times. She hadn’t hit anything else. Sand gets caught in them and they make pearls. Even mussels. Even freshwater mussels.
One morning she drifted down a river. On her back, feet forward. Dodging rocks. Missing boulders. She struck one, bounced. I splashed from a rope swing. Landing on fish. On fish eating fish. She is here now, there are no boulders. Only me, shattered. Pebbled. She steps gingerly, collecting. Piecing together. Unsplashing upward, out, swinging back to the bank. Fish leaping tail first.
At the ballgame I wanted to cry and consider the world through a rain-smeared window. Lauren wanted kettle corn. The vendor cheered fatly, soliciting. We paid and munched while men swung bats. She mentioned the lights, tall and bug-eyed. I stared at the bats flying overhead. Everyone stood and cheered, clapped and smiled, high-fived. Then she split open, _shrkt_, spilling.
No one shrieked. Tenable, yes, but not to them, to her.