I have a scar on my left hand, between the index finger and the thumb. It still pains me to look at it.
It was a very simple accident. I waved my hand and knocked a wineglass over, and my convulsive attempt to save it only made things worse. The wine shot across the table like a ruby fan, and the glass shattered. A shard ended up stuck into the side of my hand like one of those plastic tags they jam into flowerpots.
This happened because Sam and I were having an argument. I wish I could tell you what we were arguing about, but I don’t remember. We were arguing about nothing, which is what you do when you are arguing about everything. We were arguing about who was going to win, whether there was any point in being together, and who would take the blame.
She howled with rage when I broke the glass. I am sure she thought I did it deliberately. I said something dismissive and I smashed the glass: I’m sure that’s how she saw it.
I held up my injured hand to ward off what I feared would come next. At that moment, I felt that one more word would be too much. I held up my hand to show that I was hurt already. I saw her face through the shard of glass, like a wounded swan far away. I pulled the glass out.
It made her gag. I am sure she thought I was hurting myself on purpose, as if to say, Look what you made me do. She yelled, Stop it, as if I was still doing something, but all I was doing was clenching my hand into my T-shirt to stop the blood.
It was an accident, I shouted. I should have shouted I’m sorry, or rather, I should have whispered. I should have been quiet and slow. I should have said You’re right, I’m wrong. I did say these things, but only after we had a wrestling match over the cleaning up, with me winning the right to ruin a tea towel, and Sam getting her own cut on a glass splinter. By the time I said the right things, they sounded all wrong, coming muffled and turbid through a closed door.
What shits me is the feeling that if I hadn’t broken the glass, nothing would have happened. This is the way things go: if we hadn’t been having an argument, I might not have knocked over the glass; if I hadn’t knocked over the glass, the argument might have vanished, just like storms blow themselves away. Somehow the broken glass lifted us into a drama from which it was too undignified to return. It was the end of everything between us.