Spring 2024

Sea Glass

By Lydia Pejovic


Will never enjoyed dry wines, but Jen only stocked her fridge with bitterness. Her house, although meticulously organized, cleaned, and designed, felt as if it was allergic to the concept of comfort or sweetness. When he grabbed the bottle out of the fridge, he saw the vegetable drawers stuffed to the brim with kale and cabbage, and the side doors were packed in with bright green juices and containers stuffed with what looked like homemade healthy “desserts.” Jen had always been slim and cold, so this type of food selection wasn’t out of the ordinary. He remembered her side of their fridge looking quite similar many years before. It made him take a self-conscious glance down at his ever-growing gut. The years hadn’t been kind to him. Or maybe he hadn’t been kind to the years. But, still. He wasn’t about to talk to her without having alcohol, so the single bottle of sauvignon blanc it was. Will searched through her many kitchen cabinets, which, of course, were organized with clear containers, for a wine glass, eventually pouring the wine while grinding his teeth. She was out in the backyard waiting for him, playing her jazz playlist at a respectfully low volume. 

Jen had set up the lounge chairs on her sprawling, beachfront patio. When Will walked out to see her, she was lying motionless except for the breeze in her hair, her slight and angular body mirroring the brown, craggy rocks that dotted the shore in front of them. She was very focused on something in the water; Will tried to find what she was fixated on, but saw nothing. There was always that hint of wildness in her eyes, wildness which never manifested itself throughout the rest of her body. Her gaze was fire, and her body was frozen. Sometimes it was

hard not to pity her, even though she didn’t have much to be pitied for. The jazz music, although playing quietly, was already nagging him. How could you relax to jazz music when its whole purpose seemed to be chaos? He needed to drown out the instruments.

“Do you feed your husband with that rabbit food you’ve got in the fridge? A man can’t survive on that, you know,” He said, trying to start some sort of baseline conversation as he settled into the lounger beside her.

“Huh?” Jen replied, blinking her eyes heavily, “Oh, um, not really. He isn’t home often, traveling and all that, so that’s… That food is my thing.”

“Ah. I see. I remember you eating like that.”

The jazz music, which had been drowned out by their light conversation, made an unwelcome reappearance in their silence, punctuated by the calls of seagulls and the crashes of heavy waves. The ocean air was very refreshing, but the air had a chill to it. Jen had warned him to bring a coat – the gloom of a San Diego summer morning was less of a myth than he had thought it to be. Jen had goosebumps on her shiny, waxed legs, but she didn’t wear a jacket, either. Will found himself wondering if, maybe, he should’ve grabbed her a blanket, as if she was some sort of helpless child. Jen was a grown woman in a seaside mansion – if she couldn’t help herself, then he couldn’t help her. That was that. The cost of this house was definitely in the millions, he was sure of it. It was the representation what she had always wanted: a wealthy, absentee husband with a luxury home. Pity, he thought, should be reserved for those who deserved it.

“A lot of upkeep on this place, right? I bet you get a lot of rust because of the salt and humidity. Gotta replace stuff,” Will said.

“You’re drinking early,” Jen replied, almost as if she had just now seen him for the first time that day.

Will cleared his throat.

“Well, it’s one glass. I probably won’t finish it because I like sweet wines.”

“It might do you good to lay off the sweets.”

“Thanks, Jen. I really appreciate that comment.”

Jen pulled her knees into her chest like a little girl and looked off into the water again.

“Sorry,” Jen said, but she didn’t sound very apologetic.

“Not all of us have the money that your husband does, you know,” Will argued.


“Some of us don’t get to eat kale for lunch every day.”

“I understand, William.”

The seagulls screeched and called to one another somewhere above the water. Will felt like Jen’s cold, foul mood was dragging him down with her. And of course she was calling him “William.” So cruel and formal. Like they were strangers.

“I don’t like to be called William. Especially by you.”

“You’re dramatic, William.”

She was always one to twist the knife.

“So, you’re just not going to respect me?” Will asked.

“Let’s talk about what you came here for,” Jen responded, still hugging her knees.

“Fine. He’s at my house. We found him a few days ago,” Will said, facing Jen directly, “And he said that he’s not coming over here to see you.”

Jen bristled, letting out a loud huff.

“Of course he would say that. Because you spoil him and baby him,” She asserted.

“Jen, what you need to understand is –”

“Don’t tell me what I need to understand. I understand you and I understand David. Both of you don’t understand me.”

Will felt like he knew Jen very well, maybe even too well. He never intended to spend his life wrapped up with her and her larger-than-life ego, but he was here. He didn’t have to come to this house, this example of her greed and “material girl” attitude, to talk to her, but he did it because of David. Will loved their son. Did Jen? He wasn’t so sure.

“I need you to work with me on this,” Will said with fading patience.

“It’s interesting that you finally want to work on something with me. You normally like to exclude me,” Jen replied, still not dropping her bitterness.

“You know,” Will said, raising his voice, “I didn’t want to live like this, either, Jen. But you of all people should understand –”

“What did I say about your ‘understanding’ bullshit?”

“For god’s sake! The boy is sick. Let’s stop with the games today. It isn’t about us right now. It’s not all about you.”

Jen looked like she was attached to the ocean, almost as if she were planted firmly in the sand. Her eyes couldn’t leave the coast. Will used to tell her that she looked like she was drowning in her own misery, but that was decades ago, decades past when he thought he could change her. Jen was an immovable force, an anchor lodged a hundred feet down, rusting in the salt water. Sometimes he felt like she was pulling him along with her. But, sometimes, he felt like the sand that kept her weighed down. He wanted to know what she was thinking, but she never let him in. If she could let their son in, he knew it would help. He just knew.


It didn’t matter how fast or far she tried to run from her past; William was always there to yank her back to where she began. He had been stunting her since the day she met him. And she hated him for it. Jen could feel his eyes on her, boring into her face, but she couldn’t stay focused on him. There were boats out there: a yacht was in view, gliding on the horizon at a leisurely pace. Jen wondered if a family was renting it out on a summer vacation, or maybe a group of families got together and split the cost of the vessel. Imagine that… Getting along with multiple families, much less your own. She chuckled to herself and looked at William. Sometimes he looked downright pathetic, what with his beer gut hanging wider and lower with every year that passed. She couldn’t believe that she had slept with the slob. No wonder her husband hated having him around the house; he was such a disturbing force.

“William,” Jen said, rubbing her temples, utterly frustrated by this conversation, “If you would like money to send David to a treatment center, I’m sure Ron would be happy to pay for it. Just bill him for the amount.”

Jennifer,” William replied, irritated, “David doesn’t want your husband’s money. He wants his mother to pay attention to him. To love him. Show him you love him.”

Jen scoffed. “I am showing him I love him. I’m offering to pay for him to get better. What more could I possibly do? You ask me to do such ridiculous things!”

“It’s not what he wants,” Will argued.

“Do you think any of this is what I wanted? Do you think I wanted David to be like this? I didn’t, William. I didn’t!”

The birds had stopped calling to each other. There was an unnatural silence on the water, and the grey noontime sky shaded the two of them. Jen knew she had upset William, but she couldn’t help herself. He asked too much. He always asked too much. The yacht was almost out of sight. Did families who went on vacation together have kids with drug problems? Or was it just her fucked up family? It was probably because they never went on vacations. She would blame it on that, probably. That’s what she’d tell Ron when he got home next week. David said we never went on enough vacations and now he’s addicted to heroin, but it’s probably William’s fault because William had custody, and how was she supposed to know that depriving a child of a trip to Legoland could get them addicted to drugs?

“I see we’re not getting anywhere,” William stated.


“Will you call David tonight?”

“Why doesn’t David ever call me?”

“Because he’s sick.”

“Hmph. No one ever called me when I was sick.”

“It’s a different kind of sickness, Jennifer.”

“Sickness is sickness, William.”

The two started glaring at each other. The yacht that carried Jen’s metaphorical happy family was out of sight. Now, it was her facing her biggest mistake with nowhere to run. His face was red with anger; Jen noticed that he was balding. Huh.

“You only care about yourself,” William said, pointing at her with his chubby index finger, “And you’ve never been a mother to David.” “I never wanted to be a mother.”

William grabbed his glass of white wine, only about one-third finished, and, began to chug it. Jen liked to believe that David got his addictive personality from William, not herself. After all, she was only addicted to being healthy. And was that such a crime?

“Call your son before it’s too late,” William said, setting his wine glass down on the patio floor with a shaking hand and walking away.

Jen didn’t look after him. She turned her attention back on the water in front of her. The grey sky was breaking; it was afternoon now and the clouds parted, shining yellow, blinding patches onto the ocean. She imagined her anchor was in one of these sunshine patches, living inside the pocket of heat in an otherwise lukewarm body. If she had to be stuck somewhere, it could at least be in warmth. Jen sat up, wanting to move to the edge of the patio to get closer to the water, and kicked the wine glass. It (quite miraculously) rolled without breaking. Jen picked it up and admired the glasswork: the smoothness, the perfect roundness, the sparkle. It made her think of David, the way he was born into his own form of perfection with his round face, smooth baby skin, and sparkling eyes. It had been years since he was that child; he had been taken by the world and molded by harsh waves into sea glass. She didn’t recognize him anymore. Maybe she’d call David, after all. If William didn’t pick up the phone first.

Jen raised the empty glass to the sky, toasting god-knows-what, and tossed it into the waves. She didn’t see it break, only bob and then, with the force of the waves, disappear. Luckily, it escaped hitting the jutting brown rocks. She imagined that she could hear it crunching under the force of the tide. The grains would scatter on the sand she liked to stick her toes in; the sharp glass would be tamed by the salt and its unrelenting smacks. One day, when it was soft, she would pick up the once-broken shards in her hands and hold the transformed pieces. But, in that moment, it was time to wait. It wasn’t ready yet.

Lydia Pejovic is a writer and alum of the English MA/MFA program at Chapman University. She writes both fiction and poetry and has been published in Tab Journal, Bluepepper, the Maine Review, and more. Check her out at https://www.lydiapejovic.com/.

Spring 2024