Jaya Avendel

When I weep, I weep quartz crystals. You have collected them since before I was born in a turquoise-studded bowl of your ancestor’s making, where she smoldered incense and the smoke carried her prayers to the afterlife.

Eight may be a lucky number, but an hour of tears yields eighty and I have never counted them, but you swear you have and how can you not have filled the bowl by now? as I weep, and darkness closes in?

It is always closing in, like a wave always breaks against the shore. I am the shore, but the darkness is not breaking. My tears become the white sand you leave your footprints in, but the darkness washes away your heels and flat toe prints before seashells can stud your nails and support your arches.

One day the bowl is full, and it is practically overflowing when you drop my last crystal tear in. The crystalline mass wavers and shimmers—it is so beautiful!—but it almost collapses. I have to stop crying now; have to keep the bowl from erupting at its seams, so I start screaming and you collect the screams instead in a bronze flask of your godfather’s making.

The flask is golden inside, flat-bottomed, and hollow. Even with the cork stopper stopping up the bottle, I still hear my past lifetimes echoing.