Pause

That moment after you drop a glass, before it shatters, that long chasm of perfect silence as you wait for it to make that distinctive sound.

You have enough time to cringe, enough to draw in a sharp breath and hold it, more than enough to scold yourself for wasting time, not reacting and trying to prevent the thing falling.

That's what you stand in the middle of now.

That moment of weighty silence between action and reaction. You find yourself suspended inside a bubble floating to the surface. For that time you are some kind of perfect. When the bubble bursts it's all over and you are floundering, ungainly, in a mess of your own creation.

There are times when this vacuum swallows everything but your own anticipation as you wait for the air to come rushing back in and depressurise the airspace with an answer to your question, a defence to your challenge, a truth you don't want to hear or the lie you fear you'll be told.

When it's your pause, it's different.

When eyes bore into you and wait; glass falling, bubble ascending, vacuum compressing; you have no way out and find yourself on tenterhooks too. You hold yourself in as much suspense and soon…

Soon.

You reach breaking point and open your mouth. The words aren't ready but if you hesitate any longer you'll collapse in on yourself. Maybe you'll start with a vowel, one comes as you force your breath past your gaping lips.

"I-"

She stops you with a smile, her fingers before your lips to hold the words inside.

"When you're ready," she says, "I'll wait."

Sometimes the glass doesn't shatter. Sometimes the bubble doesn't pop as it surfaces, sometimes the vacuum holds just a little longer.

Sometimes a pause ends and an new speech begins.

Then there are the times a pause ends with a comfortable silence.

This time she'll let it go. Next time you'll be able to tell her about the locket.