This story was entered in the 2012 Lascaux Flash competition.
When the kaleidoscope hit the floor with more of a ping than a crash, Jonah let out a relieved sigh. It wasn’t until he replaced his father’s prized possession on its stand that he saw the crack. After a quick peek around the room, Jonah angled the stand so the cracked lens faced the wall. If Dad didn’t see it, Jonah couldn’t be punished for it…right?
That night, Dad brought home a guest for dinner. Mom wasn’t mad this time, so he must have remembered to tell her beforehand. No one had told Jonah.
Throughout the meal, Jonah focused on his plate, speaking only when spoken to and in as few syllables as possible. He followed the conversation as best he could, ears tuned for mention of the kaleidoscope, all the while hoping that maybe this time Dad wouldn’t want to show off his favorite toy.
Those hopes were dashed during dessert. While everyone nibbled on Mom’s pecan tartlets, Dad regaled his guest with the story of the antique kaleidoscope. While Jonah licked the sticky sweetness off his fingers, the adults adjourned to the living room to admire the scope.
Jonah entered the room as Dad lifted the kaleidoscope off its stand, holding it with only his fingertips. Then, CRASH! Hundreds of colored pebbles spilled across the floor among bits of broken glass and cracked wood. Everyone sat in stunned silence.
Finally, Dad spoke, his voice rife with regret. “These things happen, I suppose.” He looked at Jonah. “Right, son?”