The Pieces She Kept

Marisol lived upstairs in the house, with the others. She never wore shoes. When the others weren’t looking, Marisol broke into the parlor and destroyed the tea services, one piece at a time: cups, pots, saucers, sugar bowls. Each time, she plucked a piece out from the china hutch and dropped it, effortlessly, and smiling as she watched it hit the hardwood floor.

As soon as the others heard the shatter, they chased her out of the parlor, beating her with brooms and rolled up magazines. They wept over the loss of their fine country roses, their Noritake and their gold-trimmed Warwick. They swept up what they couldn’t salvage, but a few shards became embedded in Marisol’s feet as she ran away. She kept those.

Eventually, after months and months of bleeding soles, she collected enough jagged china and pulled it all out from her hiding place under the bedroom floor. She stole a bowl of wallpaper paste and Aunt Crinoline’s jar of rubber cement, then she took the shards and glued them together, forming a three-foot tall hairless Siamese, a feline-shaped gargoyle that loomed over her bed.

When the others asked, Marisol promised the cat did not hop down from the bedpost and wander the house at night. That clicking sound was not its claws on the floorboards in the hall. She insisted the cat was just a sculpture, a mosaic of mismatched porcelain, sleek and inert. The dark puddles of liquid around the cat’s heels were not blood, of course, no. Those were just stains from leftover tea.

Lorna Dickson Keach

image: Stuart Rankin