Esme knew the blue glass bird was going to die. He was strangling it in his sweaty left hand.
Xavier's anger transformed him from a handsome fifty-year old man to a red-faced balding pig with thin lips, spitting and snarling. Rooting around in muddy insecurities was his hobby.
He was ramming his short tusks into the walls around her now, and she felt the familiar bowling ball settle in her lower belly. Her head felt thick and strange as he fired his staccato rapid-fire fuck-bitch-shit litany.
Darla had given her the blue glass bird when she turned 20.
"It's a bluebird of happiness,” she proclaimed. Esme smiled and ran her hands over the bird's soft rounded lines, weighed it in her palm, held it up to the light to see the depth of colour. The bluebird had only smooth glass where eyes should be.
Esme hated knick-knacks, but she loved Darla, her father's receptionist. Darla was funny, always remembered her birthday and was perpetually on her side.
At fifteen, Esme had worked in her father's office under Darla's supervision. She learned how to deal with angry deaf people on the phone, and how to bear the smell of unwashed skin. Esme liked the way Darla lived her life, simply, contentedly, in pearls and trim medical uniforms.
Esme kept the bluebird of happiness, through her twenties and thirties and forties.
During a minor earthquake in Vancouver, the bluebird hopped two inches off the white mantelpiece and landed softly again, unscathed. The bluebird traveled from Vancouver to Calgary to Whitehorse to Montreal, ensconced in a soft cloth, emerging from a packing box to greet the sunlight in a new place. It listened to Esme cry through unrequited loves, self-loathing and suicidal depression. It stood sentinel on the windowsill as Esme fell in love with Xavier, or her idea of Xavier.
At their wedding, Darla gifted Esme and Xavier two new bluebirds of happiness, a mother and baby bird set in a disc of blue glass. Darla winked, "Your family is growing. Your bluebird needs some company."
Xavier tossed the bluebird from hand to hand, yelling all the time. He was a tosser. He had tossed phones, glasses, pencils, and even rammed a laundry basket into the wall once, making a hole in the drywall. The floor was cork. The bluebird had a slim chance of survival. He drew back his arm and pitched it hard and fast, blurring across the room. It hit the fridge hard enough to leave a dent. Surprisingly, the bluebird didn't shatter, but broke cleanly in half.
Mandy Ruthnum is a Mauritian-Canadian writer living on Vancouver Island. Her work has been published in Herstry and The Book Smuggler's Den. She is a physician specializing in dementia care. You can follow her on twitter @MRuthnum.