Grief is a Language Without Words

Ray is very careful about the silverware.

He places two forks to either side of his plate, then the spoons and a knife to the left. He places the drinking glass to the right, the wine glass to the left. He straightens the napkin holders on the napkin until it's perfectly centered, then he centers the napkin on the plate, aligning the creases with the plate's edges.

It's perfect. The table cloth pattern is perfectly aligned with the the chairs at the table, the plate, the cutlery. The plate is aligned with the chair, the glasses are aligned with the chair. Ray straightens the knife to the left of the plate and all of a sudden, everything seems to have fit together perfectly.

Ray steps back, lets out the breath he had been holding, and feels his shoulders untense.

The table was perfect. His place at the table looked exactly as he remembered it. It was a bastion of perfection in the rubble of his childhood home.

He could picture his sister across from him, his mother and father at either head of a table too big, too grand for them. Food that none of them liked set before them, wine that no one enjoyed filling their cups.

Ray stares and says nothing, not that he ever had anything to say.

He stares at the way the tablecloth falls over the edge of the table, the way it crinkles and falls perfectly at the corners.

He feels his hands tremble into fists and very slowly, very carefully, he creeps forward until his shaking hands grip the tablecloth. He bunches the perfect fabric between his fists and holds it there for a moment, thinking.

With a great heave, he pulls the fabric up and to the side. The cutlery fly into the wall with a mellodic, metallic crash. The plate shatters and the glasses fly into pieces.

Ray stares at the floor and tries to find the results, the shards, but it seems the wreckage of his destroyed home has swallowed his outburst whole.