I've been working on another round of edits to my manuscript. Most of them are mechanical, but today I hit on a meaningful one. For context, here's what precedes the relevant lines:
She lowered herself clumsily to the floor and sat with her knees pulled up to her chest, her back against a kitchen cabinet. I sat down beside her. The rubber floor covering was shaped like honeycomb, and though the rest of the kitchen was Ajax clean, in all its hexagonal reticula there were accumulations of dust and hair and crumbs and onionskins. Pressing her fingers to her eyes and face, Kate began to shake. When she spoke her words were warped by sobs. I want to die, she said. I want to die.
I felt almost physically ill. I felt unprepared and wrong for the occasion. I was a baseball glove at a black tie dinner. A floor-length gown on a boy scout.
Those last metaphors hadn't ever been right, and I knew it. This morning I came up with a couple of replacements. Now it reads:
I was a bicycle helmet at a football game. A book of knock-knock jokes shelved among memoirs.
So. Much. Better. Am literally sighing with relief.