It's April, and that means it's time for another WEP Challenge. This month we have Antique Vase. I hope you enjoy!
The bright light of day hit Donna in the face as she exited the attorney’s office. She squinted as she cradled the antique vase in her arms, keeping one hand atop of it to ensure the lid wouldn’t fall and smash to bits in the parking lot. The heft of it sent waves of pain through her shoulders and down her back. In all the years she admired this vase from afar, she never imagined how heavy it would be.
“I can’t believe she only left you a vase,” Orville said as he walked beside her. He twirled his car keys in his hand, the other shoved deep in his jeans pocket.
Donna glared. The expression was lost behind the massive vase, of course, but the expression still made her feel better. He could probably do with a smack upside the head like she used to deliver when they were kids, but they were in public and her arms were occupied. “Don’t be like that,” she muttered. “I always loved this vase. I was never allowed to touch it as a child. That probably made me love it even more, to be honest.”
Orville shook his head. “I always thought it was ugly.”
Donna bristled at that. The tan paint on the outside was cracked in places, and little chips and dings adorned its surface. Once vibrant red zigzagging lines on the top and bottom had faded to the color of dried blood. Okay, it wasn’t the most beautiful object in the world, but that didn’t dampen her love for it. Her nostalgia goggles wouldn’t allow her to forget all those hours she spent staring at it as a kid, wondering about all the places the vase had been before it took up residence on her aunt’s mantle. Who owned it before? How had it earned all those little imperfections?
“I know Aunt Margaret wasn’t the richest woman in the world, but it seems like you got the short end of the stick,” Orville continued. “You actually visited her regularly. Mom got the house, and they barely got along, for crying out loud. I saw her three times in five years, and I still got her car.”
The car in question was a ten-year-old black Chevy Impala. Aunt Margaret had been proud the day she bought it. “First brand new car I’ve ever owned in my life. It’s about time I treated myself.”
Donna decided not to reply. It would only encourage him to keep babbling, and her patience was wearing thin. She didn’t want to get into an argument.
Aunt Margaret wouldn’t have held back, though. Were she able to hear Orville right then, she’d have given him a piece of her mind. She wasn’t one to mince words.
Their aunt lived alone most of her life. Her husband Charles up and left one day nearly thirty years before. No warning. No explanation. They didn’t have any children, either. Donna assumed her aunt might have moved on and started seeing someone as time went on, but she never did. The only time Donna asked about it, Margaret had shrugged. “I decided I don’t need the drama. I do just fine on my own.”
And she had. She never needed to ask anyone for anything. Perhaps her fierce independence had been intimidating to many, but Donna always admired it. She wished she could feel that confident in her decisions and interactions with others. Maybe if she could bring herself to tell Orville what she thought of his words, he might learn to shut his mouth a bit more often.
Donna almost heaved a sigh of relief when she reached her SUV. She leaned against the rear so she could keep the vase aloft while she fished her key fob out of her pants pocket.
“Talk to you later,” Orville called out as he headed off toward his own vehicle.
“Thanks for the help, little brother,” Donna grumbled under her breath.
The balancing act that followed kept Donna’s blood pressure elevated, but she finally got the rear hatch opened and the vase safely stowed away with some pillows and blankets to cushion it. She still didn’t know where she would keep it in her home, but that was a problem for tomorrow.
* * *
The next morning, Donna knelt on her living room floor beside the antique vase. She’d been too tired when she got home to properly study it. She now allowed herself a moment to run a hand over its surface. The rough texture of the surface teased her hand with its history, a secret she would never know. She moved her hand to the lid and, exercising great care, gently started to pry the lid back.
Did she anticipate finding anything hidden within? No. The action came more from the childhood fascination she’d built up around this vase. Kids want to turn over every stone and open every box, after all. This felt like a natural extension of that.
The lid came free easier than Donna expected. She gently set it on the floor and peered inside.
A golden sparkle caught her eye immediately. She reached inside and felt cool metal disks. Her heart nearly stopped when she pulled out a handful of golden coins. Her eyes were on the verge of bulging from her head as she reached in with her other hand. There were more coins inside. Many more, but there was also something else. She closed her fingers around the newly discovered object and fished out a stack of hundred-dollar bills.
She continued to scoop out the unexpected treasure, piling it on the carpet as she went. Her thoughts were wild with the possibilities. How much was here?
“No wonder the vase was so darn heavy,” she said to herself. “It had a secret.” So did Aunt Margaret, for that matter. And, on reflection, Donna knew it would be best to maintain that secret.
Word Count: 990