Below please find my entry for the WEP April 2020 Challenge. Write…Edit…Publish is a writing challenge sponsored six times a year by the good folks over at #WEP / #IWSG, an online community meant to support and inspire writers at all stages of their career. The rules are simple. From the WEP site, submissions can be “any genre except erotica, max word count 1000. Present your interpretation of the prompt in flash fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction.” Please visit the link above for more information about how the challenge works and how to get involved.
The little piece below is my first entry which I humbly submit for consideration. I found participating this round to be tremendous fun and hope to do so many more times. I want to thank all those who work to make #WEP and #IWSG such a useful resource for writers.
I’m just getting started as a writer and welcome all your comments and feedback. Thanks for having a read!
A vase—in four parts
Jane stood at the kitchen counter waiting for the glue to dry on the fragile base. Unconsciously she wanted to touch her fingers, chilled from the drafty window, to the swelling that had developed around her eye. She had to keep reminding herself not to touch her face. She needed to concentrate if she hoped to save the vase.
David had given it to her on the day they met. The grand opening of his business, Danbury Dry Goods, was a much anticipated event. Jane and her mother had come to participate in the festivities. As Jane walked through the door, David seemed smitten. From the window display of imported Asian pottery, he selected a vase and, with an impish grin, presented it to her. Hand-painted and traditionally glazed, the piece featured a base adorned with verdant leaves emerging above a pond and a lone, white lotus that climbed, reached up the fragile neck.
That had been a decade ago. Before their marriage and the arrival of their son and two daughters. Before he found the taste for strong drink. Before.
Jane felt the sick rise in her stomach as she picked up the pieces in the morning and rummaged through the utility drawer for the glue. She was so sorry to see it broken.
Ramon smiled as he looked down at the vase. He was ready to pack it for the last stage of its journey—a trip across the continent to its forever home. It had served him well. He sold way more work in New York than he could have dreamed. It had been a fantastic tour, and he was so satisfied with himself—a genius idea, masterfully executed, and then well-received.
He turned the vase over in his hands remembering the day he found it. He and his then girlfriend had decided to make a summer tour of the Appalachians. Only a few hours into their drive they had landed in a small town called Danbury, stumbling upon an estate sale for the great-granddaughter of a local businessman, the sole proprietor of the town’s general store, first opened in the early 1800s. Ramon and Gina had spent an hour digging through the unusual variety of wares: newspapers with headlines from Lincoln’s assassination, boxes of old election buttons, and a wide assortment of period clothing. On the shelf between a face jug and a Lodge bacon press was this vase from Asia. He immediately knew the dynasty and region in China but found unfortunate hairline cracks from where the vase had been repaired. As an investment it might be worthless, but the juxtaposition of this ancient vase from the Far East with the now antique pieces of the early American South was striking. He snapped a picture, then rearranged the pieces on the shelf before snapping another. He ended up buying the item, and the project was launched. He and Gina began traveling all over the world finding new and interesting ways to photograph the vase—on a cafe table in Paris—on the slopes of Everest—in war-torn Baghdad—and always, its lotus reaching, straining for the sun.
Ramon was now sending the vase on to San Francisco. For publicity, he had donated the piece to a local Asian Art museum where it would live in their collection. He smiled once more before adding his letter of provenance and taping up the box.
Amy held up the next package from their haul. She was so pleased. She had found a little bug in the mobile app for a local courier service. Tony could now drive around following the blinking dots on the map to find where the packages were being dropped, one by one. He would pull up and then she would go grab the package. It was a fantastic haul today, and they could now pay the rent.
It was Amy’s turn to open a package. “It’s like Christmas!” she laughed. So far they had scored a 3D printer, two phones, a robotic vacuum and even fine jewelry.
When Amy saw that the box was addressed to a local museum, her hopes soared. She ripped open the box with flair but the only thing inside, wrapped in tissue, was an old vase and a letter. She discarded the letter, unread, into the pile of paper recycling and held up the piece to the light.
“It’s ugly,” Tony sighed. “Worth anything?”
Turning it over, Amy found the cracks that went around the neck and base. “Don’t think so. It’s broken in like…dunno… four pieces.”
“Goodwill,” she echoed.
Tara walked through the door of the thrift store with a budget in mind. She would spend less than $5, no more, for a few things to set up her little altar. She was starting her life over. Again.
After years of life in a monastery, she had finally decided it was best for her to make her move back to lay life. (#MeToo—who knew that could happen in a place that was supposed to be safe.) She would now pick herself up, preserve what worked, and let go of what did not. The takeaways from her experience had been her meditation practice and her newfound focus on compassion. She would try to keep those alive as best she could. Thus, the need to set up a small altar.
She had found a cheap Buddha at a drug store. Now, here, she found a votive on one shelf and on another a little vase that would work. Repaired from some past damage, it was on clearance. Its depiction of a lotus was perfect for her purpose. Life for the lotus begins with its roots in the muddy bottom—only later does it manage to lift its flower to the sky.
Tara got the vase for a dollar and placed it next to her Buddha. Then she lit the candle and took her seat.
Word count 992
FCA (Full Critique Acceptable)
Thank you for having a read and feel free to leave comments. Here are the other WEP entries for April, 2020. Enjoy!