Day 12 of the 30 days, 30 words challenge:
glass·man (ˈgläs mən), n., pl. —men 1. a person who makes or sells glass. 2. a glazier. [GLASS + MAN]
The glassman lived in a glassy house on a street near a glassy sea. His life was, by design, careful. His whole house covered in carpet. All surfaces smooth, all parts plush. It wasn’t particularly sanitary: pillowtop countertops in the kitchens, bathroom sink basins made of soft clay. But for the glassman, softness was survival. Each morning, he slowly pushed off his covers and inched his legs to the edge of the bed, then he inched his legs over the side, then inched his feet towards his slippers, lying waiting on the floor. I would tell you about how he happened to arrive at the kitchen but, as you might imagine, that would take a very long time. In the kitchen, he went to his custom-made, foam-covered refrigerator to find jello or yogurt or smoothies, nothing that could get caught in his windpipe. His bones had always been brittle. He had always been prone to breaking. The possibility of fracture was a constant reminder in the sounds his body made: his clavicle crunched, his sternum snapped, his humerus hummed. When he found a small fissure, he filled it only way he knew how, and he traced his steps to see how he might have done it. There aren’t cures for glassmen, only tinctures. You could say the glassman lived a very limited life, and you’d be right, but the glassman didn’t know any different.
If he had been a boy not made of glass, maybe he would have grown up playing kick the can and climbing on the jungle gym with the other kids. Maybe he would have fallen and found a thick scrape forming a red grid across his knee. He would have placed his leg over the toilet boil as his mother poured hydrogen peroxide over it. He would have felt the burn. Or he would have played catch, the baseball hitting his arm and forming a large bruise, purple in the center and yellow around the edges until it disappeared completely, the flesh restoring itself, the injury only a memory. He would have had popped blood vessels and sore muscles and cracked lips. He would have had use for Neosporin and lip balm and bandaids. Then, he would have grown up and learned that there are far more damaging kinds of hurt, the ones so visceral you sometimes wish you could feel them in your body, maybe that would be more honest. He would have learned there are hurts that never fully heal.
As it was, the glassman was made of glass. So he only knew what it meant to be breakable. He only knew how to imagine a worst-case scenario and try to protect against it. He could see the glassy sea outside the window but he could not go to it. The glassman knew the risks were too high. The glassman knew what he was made of. The glassman, above all, knew how he could shatter.