There’s a group of strangers blocking the sidewalk up ahead, and so I thread myself between the nose and tail of two parked cars to walk down the middle of the street instead. That’s how I notice the necklace that dangles from the rearview mirror, tugging at my peripheral vision. It’s strung with hand-painted clay beads: tiny white skulls that almost seem to be smiling, alternated with serene-faced half-moons, their edges blue and glittered. The necklace is from a gift shop in Oaxaca. From a past life of mine. It is mine. And I am seeing it so clearly now, so plainly, because there is no window where there should be a window. The window between me and my necklace is gone. It was my window. This is my car.
I look down, and the glass is everywhere — the pavement, the seat cushions, the cupholders, the floor. It is magnificent, the exuberant scattering of tiny crystalline bits. What seems colorless in the form of a solid pane turns out to be a delightful aquamarine tint. It looks like millions of tiny breath mints. Like candy. I want to reach through the windowless space and grab a handful of it, to filter it through my cupped hands like sand, to hear its shimmering trickle through my fingers.
Lauren is with me, holding the end of Tomato’s leash, saying, “Oh, baby. Oh, baby.” It is midday Sunday and pleasant outside. We were on our way to her car, parked a few meters past mine; we were heading to the Berkeley waterfront, where she was going to study and I was going to run. Regular stuff. I pass her my bag and open the door to survey the damage. The movement jostles more shards from the window frame, tumbling down towards the ground.
Someone has rifled through the container between the front seats, which I use as a trash bin, and tossed the rubble around: a disposable coffee cup, some used insulin syringes, a crumpled bag of Trader Joe’s popcorn, a crushed GoGo squeeZ apple sauce from a low blood sugar, a shredded tissue. They do not seem to have taken anything; they have merely exposed the messy remains of my body’s needs, and then run off.
A curious neighbor is standing in his front yard, watching with a sympathetic frown. “It happened Friday night,” he says.
“Oh, really?” says Lauren, and I echo, “Really?” That means it sat like this all day yesterday and all night, exposed.
“I noticed it yesterday morning. Yeah. I didn’t know whose car it was.”
“Well, it’s mine!” I say, sort of sarcastically, not looking up, still examining the wreckage.
I check the back seat, the trunk, the glove compartment, just in case. I don’t know what I’m looking for. Something stolen, anything? A note? A fingerprint or strand of hair that might help me understand who and how and why? Every time I open and close a door, more of the dangling shards tumble down. The sound is a tiny applause, or an animated chorus of wheeee!, as the window frame surrenders to nakedness.