It was his favorite cup. An old-fashion ceramic mug, plain, off-white. Thick. The kind you might drink from at an all-night diner in the working part of town. He was drinking coffee from it when she came to pick up the baby. He walked out to her car with the sleepy child cradled on one arm, carrying the coffee in his other hand. He put the cup down on the car’s rear bumper then opened the door and gently placed the baby into his carrier and buckled him in.
A strange man passed on the sidewalk, disheveled and drunk.
They watched him go by and did not speak.
He bent to double-check the baby’s fastenings and caught the sweet feral scent from the child’s silken hair. Sleeping already. It was hard for him to let the child go, difficult to close that car door. She had a new car. Nicer.
Next weekend? he asked.
I don’t know. We’ll see what the schedule is like. I’ll call you mid-week, she said, getting in behind the wheel. She started the car and did not look his way again.
He stood at the curb and watched them drive away. She turned the corner down at the end of the street and something flew from the car like a flushed bird. He heard it clink on the asphalt and saw it shatter. His cup. He started toward it and then stopped. Why bother, he reasoned. It was hopeless. Too many small fragments to gather up and put back together.