Fractured Crystals

His car was a wreck: blanket flung over the steering wheel, pages of an old atlas scattered, doors ajar. And glass. Everywhere. Jammed into the crevices of the front seats, littering the floors, hiding under the floor mats, in belt buckles, in the open glove box, jamming the shift indicator. The projectile of choice, a large rock, lay where it had landed in the passenger seat.

With a sigh, the young man took another look through what used to be the driver’s side window. Then, opening the door, he knelt in the driveway and began to sweep some glass off the seat into a dust pan.

Too many thoughts chattered at him as the sun rose higher and it seemed that, no matter how thoroughly he swept, no matter how many dustpans he emptied into the dumpster, the glass kept reappearing. I didn’t need this today. Stupid idiots . . . don’t people have anything better to do? Wish I’d bought that car vac. Wonder if any of the car washes around here do interior detailing. Wonder what a new window will cost. . . .

Around noon, another dustpan full of glass was on its way to the dumpster when the light caught it just so, and the man stopped short. He dumped a few of the blunt pieces into his hand. They glinted aquamarine, and he squinted at them as though he’d never seen them before.

A few days later, when most of the glass had been swept and the rest vacuumed and a new window installed, he drove across town to a park on the shores of Lake Erie. There, taking a container filled with the fractured crystals, he walked down to the water’s edge and dumped them in.


The little girl splashed through gentle waves lapping at her feet. She had just arrived for her first summer camp at Erie Beach, Ontario, and she had been nervous about being away from home for a whole week. But now that she was here, it felt like the water was washing all the nervousness away.

She looked down at the smooth pebbles squishing between her toes, searching for beach glass. A bright sparkle caught her attention, and she plucked it from the grasp of the next wave rolling in. She gasped. It was tiny, no bigger than a pea; but it was a polished ball-shaped rock, the color of her birthstone, aquamarine.

She knew enough about beach glass to know that most of it was green or clear, like the broken bottles it came from. Sometimes she also found brown or dark blue pieces; but she’d never seen one the color of water, and as she looked at it, she thought it held more value than a whole jewelry box full of diamonds.

Clutching it tightly in her fist, she ran toward a nearby picnic table where a man sat watching her. “Daddy, look what I found!”

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2 thoughts on “Fractured Crystals

  1. Perhaps this is an illustration as to how tragedy can become triumph when handled appropriately? Either that or it’s advocating the wholesale filling of Lake Erie with debris, grin, grin. Or maybe it’s a lesson as to how time and tide can blunt our rough edges and turn us into polished gems of beauty. So many lessons here!!
    If you’ll indulge me, I’m reminded of the morning I walked out to find windows busted out of both of the vehicles we park on the street. A fellow at work suggested a line of thought which I put into verse:

    Broken Windows

    I ran to the door,
    Saw my window was broke,
    Said, “What in the hecki–
    Is this some kind of joke?

    “Get away from my truck
    Or ya gonna get hurt!”
    And I picked up a rock
    All covered with dirt.

    He gave out a laugh
    Like it was just a big joke,
    So I hurled my rock–
    Now two windows are broke.


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