Recalibrating Narratives

G. Tarsiscis Janetka

Jessica stared at the shards of broken glass on the kitchen floor. Although it happened only seconds earlier she couldn’t figure out if she dropped the antique frosted vase on purpose or not. She also couldn’t figure out if she should step on the shards with her bare feet or not. She raised her right foot and allowed it to hover above the mess. The sunflower-yellow walls pressed in on her pasty skin and held her tight. At that moment the doorbell rang, followed a millisecond later by her phone. Unsure which to answer first, she let out a guttural noise and continued staring at the glass.

“I’m sorry,” a computerized voice said from the other room, “I didn’t get that.”

Her foot eased down onto the polished hardwood. When all was quiet she found a notification from an unknown number on her phone and a package at the door. It had her name on it but she hadn’t ordered anything since moving here. Taking a dirty steak knife from the sink she sliced the box open to find a set of little girls pajamas, size 6, and a pair of sparkly silver gym shoes, also size 6. The shoes were in a plastic bag, which she sliced open as well. Silver sparkles fell to the ground like New Year’s confetti. She tossed the bag aside then shook the shoes like mad, sending bursts into the air which the oscillating fan carried about the house. Panting, she examined the shoes and found a USB port in each heel.

“LED light-up high-top sneakers,” she read on the tag.

It had been a mistake, but, like anything else that entered her house, they were hers now. Her abnormally small feet had caused her trouble her entire life but now they may be a blessing. It would be painful but she could make them fit. Setting the shoes aside she sliced the pajamas open. They were a generic animal print, surely something that had never been found in nature. Perhaps they could be turned into something for the cat. Just then the cat meowed in a moanful, haunting manner. Looking down, Jessica saw her darling boy licking its front paw, a drop of blood on the ground beside it. Throwing her new possessions aside, she rushed to help.

“Goro! Oh, Goro, let me see.”

The tortoiseshell cat cast heavy eyes on her, never breaking its rhythm. The cut appeared minor, a pin prick, but she rushed him to the vet anyway.


“There you are Goro, go on,” Jessica said, locking the cat in the bedroom with food, water and a litter box. Goro called out from the other side, batting at the door.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,” the voice said from the other room.

“And you never will,” Jessica answered, putting his carrier back in the closet.

As she strolled back to the kitchen she turned off every light in the house. Getting on the floor with a complete lack of grace that belied her slim form, she forced the shoes onto her feet, then pulled herself up using the handles on the cabinets. The button was on the inside of the tongue. She pushed both at the same time and the soles turned green. Another push and they were purple. She cycled through back to green then, with great pride in her celebrated vertical (the highest in her class back in ’01), proceeded to jump onto the glass shards—and promptly fall on her ass, cutting up her hands in the process. Righting herself again using the cabinets, she jumped again, and again, and again, the glass digging further into the soles and into the vintage hardwood floor. The vibrations shook the walls and she watched the pictures dance in their frames, rocking back and forth until several crashed to the ground, spewing more broken glass onto the floor. Meanwhile, the shards dug deeper, causing the wires in the shoes to fray, creating a strobe effect. Huffing and puffing she continued to jump, digging the glass deeper, knocking more frames to the ground as if it were a carnival game. When the last picture fell the left shoe went dark, followed shortly thereafter by the right one. She collapsed to the floor in a puddle of sweat, threw her arms up and legs apart, and performed a snow angel on the ground, creating a blood red rainbow of streaks above her.

At the moment she caught her breath the doorbell and her phone rang at the same time. A laugh she didn’t recognize howled from her mouth as she threw the phone across the room and into the TV, causing both screens to shatter. The doorbell rang again. On hands and knees she crawled to the door and wrenched herself up by the handle. Two policemen stared back at her. The lights from their car shot into Jessica’s house and shined on what remained of the vase, frames, TV, and phone. There’d been noise complaints, they said. She’d been remodeling, she said. 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,”a computerized voice said.

“It’s a little late for remodeling, don’t you think?” The first policeman said, poking his head in to look for proof of her lie. “It will wait till the morning. Don’t make us come around again tonight.”

“There’s no worry of that now. Thank you officers.”

Smiling, she closed the door, took off the shoes and threw them away, carefully cleaned up the broken glass, then let the cat out of the locked room. Noise complaints meant someone could hear her and if someone could hear her she was alive and if she was alive she was supposed to be and her mother was wrong after all. She lay on the floor, looking up at the concentric brown water stains on the ceiling. They looked like the rings on an old-growth redwood. Goro waddled to her, circled, then curled up into her armpit.

“What do you see, Goro? It’s not quite there but I see the future, and for the first time it looks like we’re both in it.”

She ran her hands over the floor and felt the new ruts in the variegated wood. She couldn’t remember if she broke the vase on purpose but now it didn’t matter. It was gone and as far as she knew it had never been there at all.


G. Tarsiscis Janetka is a writer from Chicago who drinks a great amount of green tea. His work has been featured in XRAY, Helix, The Phoenix, and other publications. More of his writings can be found at He is currently seeking representation for his first novel.