Multiple grains of sand squished beneath her feet, embedding themselves under her toenails and between her toes. The wind sailed past her red ears and whipped her hair around her head. Rows of waves crashed onto the shore, pushing water over the tops of her feet.
She looked out over the surface of the water–past the rambunctious waves, past the fishing boats and vessels, past the point of no return–and toward the point where the sky met the water in a joyous reunion, expressed through varying shades of pink, purple, orange, red, yellow, and blue.
Why did life throw curveballs like this? How could it produce gorgeous sunsets but allow relationships to crumble?
As she stared into the blinding light, the colors merged and separated, taking the form of shapes and angles until she was staring into the inside of a building.
Her husband and she decided to walk up and down the only street in town that had stores lined up one after the other. After walking in and out of doors for two hours, they finally entered a particular store filled with knick-knacks. The room, though small, had as much character as the street and town itself. Upon entering the cotton candy pink doors, steps bordered by white banisters led up to the upper floor. The walls were painted baby blue; peculiar objects and books sat on yellow wooden tables. The checkout counter rested against the wall, where a young woman stood smiling at the couple.
Her husband began strolling around, gazing intently at the multitude of knick-knacks. Every once in a while, he picked one up, turned it over in his hands a few times, then set it back down and continued on to the next object. She did the same thing, not looking for something specific, but just wanting to stall time until her husband decided to move on to the next store. She scanned the right wall, merely glancing over objects until a certain one caught her eye.
A tall mirror outlined with lights leaned back against the wall, but the eye-catching attribute was the missing shards of glass dotting the surface. When she stood still, only one of her green eyes reflected back, and three-fourths of her mouth formed a depressing frown. The top third of the braid cascading over her right shoulder dipped into one of the spots lacking glass only to reappear again right where the spot left off.
And even though this mirror was still missing pieces–the pieces of glass that defined what it was, the chunks of shards that shaped its purpose–it was still beautiful. The fact that it was missing parts of itself just made it more unique. Despite the possibility that it will never be whole again, it didn’t matter. The pieces that remained were more than enough to make up for what is lost.
“Honey, before we leave, can you buy something for me?”
“I can’t, dear. I have to get something for my mother’s birthday next week. I don’t have enough money left.” Her husband continued to peruse a shelf next to the checkout counter, not even bothering to glance in his wallet and see what he could spare.
It wasn’t like she didn’t have any money. She had informed her husband that morning that she would need to borrow some in case she spotted something she wanted, since she was running low on cash with pay day being a few days away. She assured him that she would pay him back as soon as possible, but he simply nodded and walked out the door.
“You don’t even have. . .”–she glanced at the price tag in the top left corner of the mirror–“. . .seven bucks to spare?”
He took a few seconds to answer, his nose stuffed in a thick book with dust all over it. “No, I don’t. This book is forty dollars, and I know my mother has been wanting desperately to have her own copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I only have forty-four left.”
She said no more (not out loud, anyway). She turned back around to face the mirror. About a few inches down from the top right corner, she saw the back of her husband’s head. He now stood at the counter, conversing with the young lady while purchasing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. A huge chunk of his head was missing, taking most of his brain with it.
They were husband and wife. While she understood buying a gift for his mother’s birthday was important, surely he could bargain with the woman. She seemed nice; forty-four dollars for a classic book and a broken mirror seemed like a fair deal. Could he not spend just a few more minutes convincing her to combine the two into one sale?
However, she should’ve seen this coming. The signs have been there even before they had married. She was head-over-heels in love with him; he claimed to be as well, but he was quite the expert at speaking sweet nothings and issuing indifferent ignorance. For this reason, it was difficult to decipher if he wanted to divorce.
But for her, it was all too easy to want a way out of the covenant built on the foundation of lies and ignorance.
Now, as the inside of the small store distorts into a flat line, one big circle, and a variety of colors, she can’t help but wonder if she should at least try to save her marriage. And for whatever reason, her mind returns to that mirror. She sees the missing pieces, the jagged lines where the shards were cut out–and then she realizes:
She is the mirror.
She has the piece that defines who she is: a wife. However, she does not have the piece that defines her purpose.
But looking at the pieces around her–her kindness, her ability to love beyond faults, her willingness to try–she knows what her purpose is.
And as she continues strolling along the place where the ocean kisses the shore, she knows the exact answer to her previous reflection.