The Glass Man
The Glass Man was somewhat of a mystery in the village. He owned a small glassware shop near the center of town. Everyday I passed that shop on the way to work, and always gazed into the windows of the shop. I watched my face and body contort in the objects on display in the window. I watched the transparency of the glass, and my reflection in that glass. I thought about what glass is, and how glass breaks. I never made glass, but have always been intrigued with its meaning.
I worked at a sand quarry; I shoveled sand from breakfast to diner. The job was laboring but paid well enough for my parents to continue living in their house after they retired.
I always wanted to meet the glass man, but unfortunately his shop was open during the time that I worked everyday. Everyone in the village rumored about how he could turn parts of his body into glass. Most people figured it was just legend, but I always wanted to find out if he could.
I kept my thoughts to myself about this, as most people in our village thought he was strange and someone whom people should avoid.
I woke up every morning at sunrise and soaked myself in the sunlight that poured into my room. I would do my stretches naked, and then go to the public bathhouse. From there I would walk to work and pass the glass man’s shop everyday. There was always smoke rising from the chimney, and always the sound of the bellows churning the fire.
On one day after I had left the bathhouse I saw a man who was wearing white coveralls. This man looked incredibly strange and two of his fingers were made of a strange yellow glass. I asked him “Excuse me, but are you the glass man?” He said “Is that what they call me? Well, I am afraid I am him”. He lifted his head and studied my face. His face was old, and tired looking; his skin was very dark, from what I could tell. “You look familiar, are you a worker at the sand quarry?” he asked. “Uh, yes” I stammered. “Ah yes, you are the young man who comes past my window every morning, and looks at my work” he remarked. I didn..t reply. “Do you have some time now, would you like to come to my shop and see what I do?” he inquired. I said nothing, and he started to walk off. I instinctively followed him.
We arrived at his shop; he never once looked back to see if I had followed him. He opened the door and I followed him inside. The interior of his shop was blazing hot from the furnace that was smoldering. He had glassware scattered about his workshop, from transparent to black; he had every color imaginable. “Some of these are made with lead, and some with iron. Those are the ingredients that change the properties of glass”. He began.
He continued to tell me about how to make glass, and what to add to change the properties of the glass according to their use.
Suddenly he turned to me and said, “I have been making glass all my life, I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t in here making glass. I have been doing this so long that now, even my fingers have turned to glass”. He lifted his hand and retreated his sleeve to expose his glass fingers. ” See? But this is just the side effects, I can change my body to glass if I wanted to”. And with that he climbed atop one of the wooden tables, knocking over countless pieces of glassware that were gathered on the table. Most fell to the floor and fragmented everywhere, while some just cracked, or fractured.
Then he looked down at me and said, “Now I will show you that I can become what I create, it is truly what man is meant to do”. He then, turned himself into glass, a human sculpture made of glass from hair to heel; he was solid, glistening, glass.
Quickly he reformed into his human skin. I was truly staggered.
After he looked at my face one last time he spoke “I am not the glass man. You have always been the glass man. You created me, shaped me, and cooled me. I was nothing before you, an idea, an image. Now you must do what the glass man must, and destroy what you have created if you want it to truly be yours”. I looked back into his eyes and said, “if I am truly the glass man, then I must make glass, but I have never made glass-” “-You don..t need to make glass to be him, just agree that you will do whatever you want from now on” he retorted. I agreed. He sprang into the air off the table, and formed into glass; and like that he shattered on the floor.
I am the glass man, the man who has never made glass.
This was a short story I wrote a few days after my dad was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer. (2007)