Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Red Vase

The boy's tongue kept licking at his cracked, sunburnt lips, it was kind of like poking at a sore tooth, as hard as he tried he just couldn't leave the spot alone and it stung a little more every time he touched it. As sweat trickled from his sun tipped hair, it ran onto his smooth forehead creating a fine, dusty path, stinging his eyes first, then meandering along the lean cheekbones of youth, onto lips that were already chapped by a summer of mowing lawns.  He could taste the saltiness, the brininess reminding him of the warm Pacific waters of Birch Bay where his family usually vacationed every summer.    This summer was an exception, his Mom had broken her ankle, and in spite of her protests his Dad said they would stay home so she could rest and heal some more, they would go to the beach next year instead.

His friends thought he was crazy, mowing yards in the neighborhood every day in the hot summer sun of the Spokane River Valley when he could instead be playing ball with them at the local field, or hanging out at the public pool where they would feign indifference when the, soon to be, seventh grade girls would flirt with them. He was pretty sure each of them was secretly flattered by this attention, after all these same girls had suddenly grown more interesting in the past year, even though they had gone to school with most of them for the past seven years.

No, as much as he'd like to be out playing with his buddies he had a quest this summer, he just had to raise another $17.50 to add to the stash he had already earned, and once he had that amount he would have enough to follow through on his plan, a plan that he was pretty sure would cheer his usually happy Mom up.  Her birthday would be in a few weeks and he now had the perfect gift in mind, something that would take her mind off of the injury she had received when she had fallen over something he had accidentally left out on the sidewalk leading to the garage.  She didn't blame him, but Dad had sure lit into him about it, and to be honest he felt kind of guilty, though he would never had done anything to hurt his Mom.    

He had spotted the glass vase in the front window of the new gift shop after it had opened on Main Street earlier in the year.  He was frantic that if he didn't get the rest of his money collected soon someone else would buy it because it was just too beautiful, in fact, the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and if someone else bought it would be lost forever, and would be a tragedy for sure.  This was the perfect birthday gift for his mother, something she would never, ever buy for herself.  The color was exactly right,  hadn't she always said red was her favorite color, and this glass vase was the most amazing red he'd ever seen.  Whenever the sunshine hit it bright red rays would shoot out in every direction, tinging everything they touched with a ruby glow.

Finally the day came, his hard work had paid off, after counting his stash of money one more time, he know that he had exactly the right amount and he could hardly wait to rush downtown to purchase the beautiful vase.

Something was terribly wrong, as the boy turned the corner the sunlight  that was shining through the glass windows shone onto a set of blue dishes, pretty dishes true, but not something that would turn his mother's world a cheery rosy color, not the red vase he had been yearning to buy all summer long.  Oh no, this can't be happening!  All of my hard work, Mom feeling down because of me and now everything I've saved for is gone, how could this have happened?

The bell hanging over the entrance door cheerfully tinkled as the boy slowly pushed it inward toward the colorful interior of the air conditioned shop.   The coolness of air seemed to slap his heated face, a face that looked as if it were on the verge of tears, although twelve year old boys surely don't cry in public, he thought to himself.  It was all he could do not to turn around and run for home where he knew he could shut himself in his room and grieve in private, but he steeled himself to go in and talk to the woman who owned the little shop.

"Why, hello young man, can I help you with something?" the pretty young woman dusting off a statue on a side shelf said, turning around as she put her cleaning rag aside.  "I've seen you looking in our front window before, is there something that interests you?"

"The red vase, what's happened to the red vase?"  the boy gasped, barely getting the words out, "I wanted to buy it for my Mom for her birthday, and now it's gone?"  "What am I going to do, he thought to himself."

"Why dear, I've just put it in the back of the store, so I could put the new set of blue dishes we just got in and show them off in the front window."  That vase is beautiful, isn't it?"  Would you like me to wrap it up for your Mom's birthday?

"Oh, look at the red colors shooting all around the room!" exclaimed the pretty woman, sitting with her leg propped up on an ottoman, a cast that everyone who attended her birthday party signed.  "This is the best birthday I've ever had, thank you son, I love you!"  "I love you too Mom!"


  1. As they say over here 'aaahh'. Nice, though. How many have you written?

  2. Grumpy, 'aaaahh" back at you, love your writing. As to how many I've written, just started when I retired not too many years ago. Trying to post short bits on my blog, otherwise I seem to get too lazy to write. The basics of this particular story is true, a friend of ours really did earn the money to buy this vase for his mother when he was 12, he is now 65, my age, I thought it was a story worth saving. Other stories are on the blog if you want a chuckle, almost all based on a true event or person (again stories worth saving.)

    Best wishes from Nancy at the Boat House in Birch Bay