Kintsugi by Edward Haynes

‘Fucks sake!’ It smashed right onto his foot. Blood started to squirm out. A shard of the ceramic vase was protruding from him. He yelled out, mainly for his own release. But, to his surprise, she heard and she returned. She helped remove the shard. She wrapped his foot in a bandage, applied pressure to his wound, gave him a pain killer. She did not leave that night, despite her earlier threats. He felt he’d been saved by that vase. That vase which bravely sacrificed itself for his relationship. The martyred vase. Except that’s not what happened. The vase wasn’t dead. It was back where it normally was in the kitchen, at the end of the counter. When he noticed this the next day, he thought maybe its death, and the whole of last night, was some kind of dream. But it wasn’t, it can’t have been – his foot was still cut and the vase had been broken. He could see that it had been broken. The cracks were visible, they had been filled in with gold. He approached the vase, cautiously. He was alone in the flat. She had gone to work. He texted her; she said she didn’t know anything about the vase being fixed. That couldn’t be right, she was the only one, other than him, that could have been in the flat.

When she got home, he began question her, ‘I know that I didn’t fix it so it must have been you. You were the only –’

‘How do you know it wasn’t you?’ she interjected, ‘I mean, you seemed like you had been drinking and then insisted on a lot of pain killers, maybe you just forgot.’

‘Oh sure, because drunk and high make people so good at hand-eye co-ordination,’ while he spoke he became very animated, particularly his hands, it was this same animation that led to the vase’s demise the night before.

‘Well, if you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it, what happened, it put itself back together?’

‘Maybe it did. Maybe we should test it,’ He swung his arm round, throwing the vase onto the floor. This time he moved out of its way just as it smashed onto the ground, to try to avoid further injury. However, a small ceramic splinter bounced and sliced the big toe of his uninjured foot, only calling for a mild, ‘ow.’

They both watched the shattered remains of the vase, just in case it put itself back together. Nothing happened. She called him dumb for breaking the vase again and left him to clear up the mess he just made.

Once he finished, he went to the bedroom, and took a peek under the bandage on his foot. He was completely healed. All that remained of his injury was a blazing yellow scar. Meanwhile, the vase had begun to repair again. Its shards lifted into the air, converging together. A ceramic 3D jigsaw, sealed with a golden glow.

She was the one who noticed the vase’s resurrection this time. Walking into the kitchen, she saw it had returned to the end of the counter. She called out for him, ‘Did you just fix the vase?’

He came into the kitchen, amazed to see the vase again, he could only stammer a vague denial, ‘No, it was, um, it was. I didn’t. No. It was broken.’

‘Oh fuck off, you fixed it before and you fixed it this time and you’re just saying this shit to make me feel bad.’

He opened his mouth to speak but couldn’t, there was nothing he could think to say.

And that was how it stayed, for a while. The vase was left in the corner, while they argued over how it survived. Old arguments resurfaced too, about his joblessness; about visiting each other’s parents; about their lack of romantic direction. Gold-filled cracks became dust-filled cracks.

Then there was a repeat of that first night the vase broke. They started arguing, his hands became animated, she threatened to leave. But this time the vase survived – there was no shout of pain to pull her back. He was left alone in the flat. He remembered the vase, he approached it, cautiously. He wanted to break it again, hurt himself again so he’d yell out and she’d have to come back and save him. But he knew she wouldn’t hear, she’d be outside by now. He needed to do something bigger. He opened the window at the back the kitchen, the one that faced across the street. He climbed up on the counter, swung his feet round so they dangled out the window and pushed himself off.

His feet smashed right into the ground. He tried to yell out in pain but couldn’t get that release. All he could see was red. Except, then he started being able to see gold. His vision returned, he took a peek at the surface of his mangled body and saw the golden glow that rebuilt the vase engulfing him. His cuts were filled in with gold, you could see he had been broken but he had been put back together.


Edward Haynes is a writer and critic living in North West England. He is a student of creative writing at Edge Hill University. He edits fiction for literary magazine Across & Through and writes about comics and graphic novels for Multiversity Comics. His comic Drift is coming summer 2018. Twitter: @teddyhaynes

Image: Wang Shan