The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Life Stories
Oskar didn’t know why the vase was so precious, especially with the stick figures drawn on it in dirty pink.
The Boy’s Observations
His heart was pounding like the African drums in the documentary on Nat Geo he’d seen the day before. He’d broken the green vase. It had been his mother’s favourite. Her father had got it from Vietnam or Nam as she’d like to say, during the war.
His mother was a pretty woman, bird-like, and almost always wore her hair in a bun with a string of pearls wound around it.
She’d show the vase to new guests at dinner and talk about how her father got it for her on her birthday and how he never went back to war after that. His mother’s vase story always embarrassed his father for some reason. Oskar heard them arguing on many occasions late at night after the dishes were done.
Oskar saw a few vase shards, glimmering like jewels next to where he stood shaking. He saw details he’d never noticed before. He concluded that fear and endless waiting made people more observant. A crack on the wall resembling an airplane, a forgotten board game underneath the bed collecting dust, and scratches on the old Mexican holiday clock that hung lazily on the wall.
The vase fell down while Oskar was trying to reach for the globe on the top shelf. He had a geography quiz the following week. He could name all the continents and even knew their climate zones. His mother thought that was smart but he knew it was only because he liked Ms Valerie, the geography teacher with the bright eyes and peach lips.
“Goddamn vase,” he muttered to himself.
He was too scared to clean up the mess. Too scared that the glass dust would lead to a bloody mess on his pale skin that he’d have to explain to his overly curious classmates the next day.
He waited patiently to be yelled at by his mother who was taking longer than usual in the bath, pampering herself with aromatic oils and body butter.
She’d had a rough week at work and wanted to ensure that her body got the attention it deserved even though there was no one to notice except maybe her creepy boss who entertained her with stories of his summer in Nepal and squeezed her shoulders a little too hard in appreciation of a job well done.
Oskar waited trembling, with cold hands in pyjama pockets, the one his dad got him before he left their lives forever with the waitress from Dre’s donuts. There was no note, no phone call, and no signs he was having an affair. He just left one morning, after kissing him and his mother goodbye. His mother shed absolutely no tears, which surprised Oskar who thought it was impossible for women not to cry during a breakup.
The bathroom door swung open, steam emanating from his towelled mother, like a rock star from the eighties.
“It’s b...broken,” Oskar managed to say, his eyes darting back and forth from the shattered vase to his mother’s eyes.
He waited for the scalding slap he was about to receive but it never came. From the corner of his eye, he could see his mother pick up the pieces one by one and put them on the table. She stooped down, picked a piece of the vase and placed it on the table and bent down again to pick up the next one.
Oskar sat down on one knee and helped his mother pick up the shards. It cut his finger but he told himself he could make something up to tell the boys in class. He silently helped her, hoping she’d forgive him or at least cry a little.
Oskar thought it was impossible for women not to cry over broken things but realised his mother had herself been broken long before the vase.
© Donia Varghese May 2013
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