The glass stands tall. Still. Sure. A foil to the thundering chaos in your mind—crash. A few straggling fingers of feeble winter sun clamber through the window, bouncing delicately off the clear vessel. It is entirely transparent, down to the liquid within. Pure.
A resigned hand stretches toward the glass, slipping effortlessly into an old action so long suppressed. Soft fingertips alight on flawless glass—how is it that the union of such smooth surfaces ends in such a crash?
You roll your head back. It lands heavily on the scratchy couch cushion. Your eyes are trained on the ceiling above, pocked with all sorts of nicks and notches. They’re multiplying as you watch, so you shut your eyes, allowing the third glass’s contents to trickle through your thoughts unimpeded. The sadness comes in crashing waves—you will the drink to hasten the ebb of the tide.
The slam of the front door tears you unceremoniously from a fitful doze. Your head swims thickly. The sea hasn’t ebbed; it’s just become murkier. You can no longer see the sand beneath. That used to be comforting—now it only adds to the chaos.
The sun is disappearing now, and none of its final rays manage to cross the threshold of the window. The glass looks different now, empty in the early wintertime twilight. Small. Weak.
You struggle to pull it all together—your disobedient limbs, your weak eyes and lips—to muster up an impression of control. But before you manage to focus your sight and orchestrate a warm smile, he’s already shutting the door to his bedroom. The only sign that he was there is the mail strewn on the doormat.
A new wave wells up, merciless, fueled by whatever placidity you mustered while you slept. You feel its crash resonate through every part of you. You fill the glass again.
His tread is mechanical. His body could walk him home blindfolded. Music is playing loudly into his ears as he turns the corner onto his block, backpack swinging from one shoulder.
His hand reaches into the mailbox and meets several envelopes. He doesn’t have to look to know they’re bills, warnings, notices. His jaw tightens.
It smells like home: air freshener and gin, one a pathetic attempt to mask the other.
A drunken pile of limbs on the couch. Unsurprising. He drops the mail where he stands and shuts the door with a crash, much harder than necessary. He’s done being sympathetic.
much harder than necessary.
words by Kate Shaw, “Filling the Glass,” were inspired by Koka Nikoladze‘s “INFINITELY SUSTAINED GLASS BREAKING WITH GRANULAR SYNTHESIS” (shown above)
From the author: “Recording glass breaks creates the sensation of a process of shattering that doesn’t end. It defies time, moving backwards and forwards, generating a feeling of chaos that can’t be controlled. That feeling of a lack of agency in a situation spinning out of control spoke to me of alcoholism at its true root. The belief that there is agency in a case of alcoholism—depicted here by the son of an alcoholic parent figure—plays into a dangerous stereotype that allows alcoholics to be blamed for their “choices” instead of helped to overcome their addiction.”