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The Fall of the Vase

Updated on October 19, 2012

A short story about the end of a vase and the beginning of duplicity

In late summer the roadside dandelions turned scraggly, whipping and scratching against my bare ten-year-old calves. I was walking to Henrietta’s, clutching her delicate etched glass vase, and thinking that worrying about something usually made it happen.

“Be careful with that vase, it’s her best,” my Mom had said. “You shouldn’t have brought it home.”

Henrietta was the mom of three neighbor girls, sisters, who were my best friends. The family was on vacation somewhere and had asked me to housesit. I walked to their house every day, brought in their mail and sprinkled mystery flakes into their fish tank. Their flower garden was fading, so one day I picked some, grabbed something to put them in and brought them home for my mother.

Now I was bringing the vase back. I scuffed my feet in the dusty gravel. The vase was made of the thinnest glass I’d ever seen. The intricate floral tracings wobbled, tipped off the silver base, and smashed.

Fragments winked amongst the gravel, tinier than eyelashes; you wouldn’t even know something had broken there unless you bent over and squinted. I glanced back at my house; my Mom was nowhere in sight. The road was rural and dusty and had that empty, everyone-else-is-on-vacation echo. I slid the silver base into my pocket and kept on walking.

My Mom and Henrietta had been friends for years, but Henrietta had always cared more for dining sets and china and silver and parties. She had a big bottom and a drawl around men or girls who weren’t minding.

I stashed the silver base in the woods behind Henrietta’s house. If the vase were missed, no one would know where any part of it was. If the base were found, Henrietta would think one of her daughters had put it there and blame them.

I never mentioned the vase again, and no one ever mentioned it to me.

Walking along with the silver base in my pocket, a jagged edge of glass still sticking to it, I discovered the duplicity of which I was capable. I didn’t know then how long and painful the knowledge would last, or that the dry, dead weeds would always sprout up again in Spring.


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