This flash fiction piece, Egg Shells, was originally published in Think Journal, Volume 3.1 , Spring of 2010. It appears in slightly different form in the short story collection Elephant, which is available on Amazon.
Feel the chill. Pick up the carton. Twelve perfect eggs. This won’t do.
Try another. There it is. Eleven orbs glisten blue under the fluorescent lights. The twelfth has a slight crack, ragged, but not split. Held together by the membrane.
You hold the twelfth egg delicately to the light. Insert a sewing needle into the base. Drain the yolk. Set it in a cup and return later to see the yolk in the bowl, as if the sun has melted into a puddle.
You haven’t slept well. At nights, you’ve tossed and turned. At first he held you, assured you, even though you were inconsolable. Now, he’s unsure what to do.
You line the shell on the window sill over the sink with the others. Hold them lightly so they don’t crack. Empty delicate vessels. They sit in a row.
Place the frypan on the stove. Let the gas run. One day at a time. Ignite the pilot. You are flipping the omelet when the door slams shut from behind. Twist the stove off. Chase after him.
After walking a few blocks, you spy him in the park. He is sitting on a stone wall, swinging his legs. At first, you think he is watching two healthy athletic women jog by, but then you realize he is watching two children, a boy and a girl, being pushed on swings by their father.
You cut across the field towards him. When he sees you, his legs stop swinging.
The field is littered with white parachute-ball dandelions. You have a momentary flash they are egg shells, dotting the grass like land mines. Tiptoe through them. Move quickly, before he flees. Though you don’t feel light. You feel empty.
For so long, you carried the burden but then he agreed to be tested. It wasn’t easy. You sat in the windowless waiting room after he was called back. You averted your eyes from the other men who sat waiting their turn. When he returned, he simply shook his head awkwardly. Embarrassed.
Now, he’s wiping his tears as he sits on the wall. He’s flush in the face and looking off into the woods.
What are your choices? You take his hand, pull him down so he stands across from you. He doesn’t want to look you in the eye. Embrace him lightly, gently. So fragile.