Unfortunately, the jar had a negative effect on B., though he never acknowledged this. What happened? Not even I could tell you. Maybe it was what the jar represented to B. Perhaps he could not stand the idea of all those shards, once freed from the object itself, placed captive inside of another one. B. himself had no idea. I'm not sure he even realized a change had come upon him. However, from the time of the jar on, B. was never the same. He became distant and removed. He would disappear inexplicably for days at a time. Finally, on the phone, when A. would ask what he had been doing, he would reply with such perfunctory nastiness, that she may as well have been a mother asking her 14 year-old son what he learned in school today. B. also began spending time with other people. When he would see A., he would talk about these new people in glowing terms that reminded her of how he used to talk about her. It made all of his compliments and the shard collection seem cheaply bought. In her own roundabout way, A. tried to explain this to him, and all but begged for him to say glowing things to her, to remind her that she was bright and pretty. He didn't understand and took her issues as evidence that she did not like his new friends, so he never invited her along. Usually, if A. expressed dissatisfaction at the state of their relationship, B. would either deny any change at all or assert that she was overreacting. She didn't understand what was happening.
Once, B. came over and A., deciding not to push him away with any more antagonism, told him how much she missed him and how she wished they spent more time together. He said that he missed her too, and she went into the kitchen happy to mix them some drinks. After about an hour, A. stood up in order to get the shard collection. B. took the occasion to excuse himself; he had friends to meet. A.'s mouth gaped. "What?" he asked. She just looked at him and trembled. "Look," he said, "I'm just trying to have a more balanced life. It's not healthy to spend so much time with just each other." It took every ounce of A.'s courage to keep from crying. "We were happier when we were imbalanced," she said, standing solid, determined, and correct. B. stood unmoving and ashamed. "I have to go," he said. And he left.