Shattered Shell

By Becky Rickert

The car pulled up to the brightly lit house. Holly, garland and
lights decked the view, knee deep snow reflected the colors of the
rainbow. I opened my car door and stepped onto the slick surface of the
street. I closed the door behind me and made my way around the car.
"Hey, what,s your problem?" Came a muffled voice.
I turned to see my sister re-opening the car door I had just shut in
her face.
"I,m sorry Chele. I just don,t own a brain today!"
My sister and parents followed behind me as I trudged through the snow
to reach the front door. Once there, I stood, unable to move, staring
blankly at the unopened door.
"Gee, you really must be out of it." Michele said as she pushed past
me and opened the heavy wood door.
I followed her into the warm house for what would be the last time.
There were people everywhere, but all was quiet. Christmas should be a
time for joy, of talking and laughing, but that year it was different.
The circumstances surrounding my grandmother threatened to destroy our
yearly tradition. She was the core of the family, the glue that stuck
us all together. But, she was gone. You could almost see the cracks
forming. The invincible shell that was around us, holding us together as
a family, was slowly but surely deteriorating. My Grandfather was
selling the house. But it was not just a house, it was a home. A home
filled with the memories of three generations, memories of celebration,
joy and laughter, the memories of Christmas, past. Every year since I
was born, I gathered there, in that house, with my family.
"Becky," the voice pulled me out of my reverie, "are you coming in, or
are you just going to stand there?"
I looked around, realizing I was still standing in the doorway.
"Yeah Mom, I,m coming."
I walked in gazing at my surroundings, memorizing every scent, every
sound, every image. The smell of Christmas dinner, the sound of
Christmas carols emanating from the record player, I engraved every
detail into my memory, desperately clinging to them, praying I would not
let them go. I greeted each of my many relatives with less enthusiasm
than usual, and sat myself down in my corner. Every Christmas since I
was able to walk I sat in that corner, waiting patiently for my turn to
open gifts, but that year was different. We hadn,t had time to eat let
alone get incredibly bored and I was already there. I was not excited.
I wasn,t even curious as to what I was going to receive. I just sat and
thought. I remembered my Grandmother and the lime Jell-O Christmas
trees she made me every year. I recalled each and every Christmas I
could remember.
I sat there most of that night, just as I sit here now, in my new
corner, three years after that particular Christmas, waiting for dinner
to be served. Things are different now, but not all that bad I
suppose. Christmas was moved to my Grandfather,s new duplex. He now
lives here with his new wife. It,s a nice place I guess, but it has a
way of making you feel unworthy of being there. With its size, it,s a
wonder all of us are here. That,s why I,m in my corner, my own little
space where I can be alone. Here I can pretend the cracks in our shell
were never there, now as tightly bonded together as before, rather than
pulling apart at the seams. I can dream that each piece, firmly
established in its rightful place, still feels the effects of the glue.
The glue that even in death keeps us from shattering completely.

"Shattered Shell" belongs purely to Becky Rickert © 1997.

Go back to the Table of Contents