“In a way, it’s your fault,” he says, handing us a bag of frozen peas, and we Shards can almost all agree with him on this. He backhanded us, and we (who were one) broke into many, shattering like a broken mirror, each of us seeing it differently; how we got here and why, and what to do now, and just how much danger we’re in. Our heart is so loud we can barely think over its booming.

Our culpability is the first thing we’ve come close to agreeing on since the big bang—we knew just how to push him into rage. We have a gift for the pithy insult and for prodding people’s sore spots. But we didn’t suspect that he would hit us. In the past four months he’s yelled, called us names, slammed doors, and thrown things at walls, but this, us being here like this, is a shock.

We warily put the peas against our cheek, and our hand is shaking, which pisses off Shard One. (We’re trembling like a goddamned little lamb, she says.) She wants to throw the peas at him instead of touching them to our swelling cheek. (Do cheekbones break?)

“Christ, I became a cop to protect innocent women,” he says, crouching down in front of our plastic lawn chair. We hear the slight hesitation at the word innocent, and some of us hate him, but some of us feel bad for making him so mad that he lost his core identity as a Sworn Protector of Women.

People on couch
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