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Broken Glass
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[The is an excerpt from my new novel — the end of a scene. It’s Susan and Richard’s wedding day, and they’ve been drinking with a close coterie of friends in the Stanford Faculty Club courtyard as the reception winds down.]

But when Susan tried to stand, the combination of her wedding dress’s long, trailing hem and the many downed drinks conspired to take her soggy optimism down a few pegs. She tripped and pitched forward, her half-full glass slipping to the flagstones, where it exploded into dozens of sharp shards with a crash that pierced the clenching muscle of her heart.

The buzz of surrounding conversations paused for a beat, the better to study the embarrassed, bedraggled bride. Then Richard rose and encircled his new wife in his arms. He lifted the lace and charmeuse dragging on the dirty ground out of a puddle of whiskey pooling at her feet, then kissed the top of her head. She was sad to see the brown liquor staining her gown; there was no way it’d ever be pristine again. And she felt foolish for exceeding her limits, for losing control.

Yet Susan also felt loved and accepted for who she was. Richard tilted her chin up so he could look her in the eye. She met his frank gaze without reservation. In the dark, his pupils were so fully dilated the irises were nearly non-existent, cusps of blue eclipsed by black. Still, a smattering of tiny highlights reflected the glow of a full moon that had risen in the indigo sky, mirroring the broken glass littering the slate. It all glittered like gemstones in the night.

“Leave it to Richard,” Susan thought as her husband leaned in and pressed his warm lips to hers, “to turn destruction to diamonds.”

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