Little Falling World

Words || Alex Sutcliffe

©Ling McGregor

©Ling McGregor

‘I think there's something you should know,’ he begins, although we've been sitting on this bench for half an hour—although there's nothing he can tell me now I don't already know. He expressed enough months ago, at the height of a long, hot summer, when he started sleeping in pyjamas: top and bottoms. He'd fallen for someone else and was saving his okay body for her. He's old fashioned that way. When we started dating, I managed to ignore that.

‘I never wanted to hurt you,’ he says, and I believe him because he's brought me here, to the closest thing my block has to a forest—a bin, a bench and a plane tree clustered around a storm drain—to put me out of my misery. He's old fashioned that way, too. He'd never make a mess in anybody else's home.

‘I know we've been close for a while,’ he says. We're sitting with space between us for his new girl. A puddle, the first rain of the season, spreads through his jeans. The space is dry. I scan the foliage for anything else to look at. In the middle branches of the middling tree, where I have to crane my neck to see, is the first brown leaf. Except for the tree, and the puddle, we're sitting how've sat for months—rigid spines poking into silence. Never once in those months did he slam a door or break a glass. All the glassware sat in solid stacks as we hurtled toward the floor, toward shattering together.

‘I'm in love with someone else.’ The wind whips around the first brown leaf, exposes it to the grey light. A sharp gust throws my hair across my mouth, lifts a McDonald's bag from the bin, tears at the leaves in the tree. The first brown leaf comes loose. When are two people more together than when one throws a glass just to know the other sees it falling?

‘I know you didn't see this coming.’ The first leaf to fall hangs in the grey light, floats forever as the park and everything in it—the bin, the bench, the plane tree, my already ex-boyfriend, his soon to be ex-girlfriend—hurtle toward the earth.

'I know this is a shock.’ The first leaf to fall lands in a puddle in the storm drain.

Did you see that?

‘I don't—what are you talking about?’

Purim

By Mira Schlosberg

My lips are sticky with cinnamon and sugar when I see her across the room. Red hair twisted up at the back of her neck, sensible dress. I wonder if either of us dresses outside of the synagogue the same way we do when we are here. I have half a warm donut in one hand and a strawberry cocktail the colour of something much more chemical than strawberries in the other. I try to wipe my mouth on my wrist as subtly and effectively as I can before she sees me. Our eyes catch each other’s and she smiles at me.

She is eating a gluten free hamantashen. I say I don’t think I’ve ever done Purim before. She says it’s always fun, though she is new to this shul as well and isn’t sure what to expect. I ask how long she has been coming here. Since Rosh Hashanah. When was that? September. Oh right.

The foyer smells sweet and doughy. People in costume are bright all around us. We are ushered to our seats. One of the rabbis is dressed as a banana and the other is a pirate. They make jokes at each other across the room while they hand out the scripts and the noisemakers. We are sitting in the section that is meant to be reading the part of Esther. Our scripts are pink.

I spin my noisemarker very lightly, holding it between my thumb and forefinger. When I am not spinning it I hold it in my lap the same way, too gently. Maybe it is the cinnamon sugar or maybe it is because she is next to me or maybe I am just clumsy, but I drop it. It falls on the edge of her glass, which she has placed on the floor, and a piece of the glass breaks off. Two shards skitter across the carpet but the rest of the cup stays intact. The soggy strawberries continue to float, oblivious. I wonder whether she has noticed. She has. I make a face and mouth that I am sorry.

After the service and the spiel I text my sister about breaking the cup.

She texts back, ‘God answered u.’ This is a reference to a text I sent her earlier about asking God when I would find my soulmate.

My sister says, ‘U kno they smash glass at Jewish weddings.’

I did know this, but I had forgotten.