Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week the prompt is to have a character explain why they stole something.
Fragmented snakes twist around broken and chipped Chinese men. Hopelessly, their glossy faces—both snakes and men—glare at me, perhaps begging to be put out of their misery. I want to help, but it’s too late. At one time they were safe—when, healthy and whole, they leered from a two-foot-high porcelain vase. Now, it’s a puzzle as to where one slimy snake begins and another ends.
The vase belonged to my mother, passed down to her from her mother, though it had been a wild ride to her home. At first, it had been in the possession of my maternal great-grandfather until stolen by his disgruntled housekeeper. After his death, the thief had taken pity on his widow, for one day it appeared in a crate on my great-grandmother’s doorstep. The vase had been carted to England, Scotland, Portugal, Canada, China and the United States—not necessarily in that order—and to some places more than once. Surprisingly, the object remained in perfect condition.
Of course, all that was hearsay, since the tale had been passed down from the generations. But it makes for interesting talk.
My mother thought the ornamental object to be worthless. I knew otherwise. My three siblings were clueless and only vaguely knew the item existed.
I wanted the objet d’art. Badly.
Today, I see my mother’s face every time I enter my apartment. Those once-intact Chinese faces have morphed into hers. Too many of them, all sneering at me, as if they know the truth. In my defense, she wasn’t supposed to get hurt. And the vase wasn’t supposed to have broken.
Sometimes, however, you can’t control events. Sometimes life doesn’t play out like you envision. Sometimes you’re left with nothing but regrets.
My mother protected the vase the night the masked man broke into her home. The intruder fought back, selfishly determined to have what he desired. In the end, no one won. The almost million dollar ornament cracked into several pieces when it hit the floor. My mother, devastated—not because of its monetary worth but for sentimental reasons (for if she had cared about its dollar value, it would’ve sat in a vault)—picked up the poker resting by the fireplace beneath the mantle where the vase had been displayed. The intruder, instinctively protecting himself, fought back. The poor woman didn’t stand a chance.
I snatched a hunk of the porcelain before I raced off that night. The large shard now rests on my mantle, a memento as fragile as breath.
The Spot Writers- our members:
Catherine A. MacKenzie