The Drop


The Broken Vase (Harry W. Watrous, circa 1900)

The glass slipped from her hand, hit the floor and broke into a  thousand shards.  For a moment all she could do was stare.  The unbidden memories washed over her.

Another broken glass, but this one a jelly jar.  Spilled milk as a child, and the gentle admonishment that it wasn’t a big deal.  A hug.  A kiss.  And a cookie to go with a fresh glass of milk.

Dropping the silver-framed hand mirror as she tried to look at the back of her dress for the dance.  The fractured image an omen of bad luck to come?  Or maybe all school dances are destined to be disappointments?

The unmistakable sound of a window removed from its frame by a stray baseball, and then the sound of running children after the silent aftershock. These rookies knowing that for weeks the team would be missing its first baseman.

The crunch of headlights yielding to the bumper of another car.  The sinking feeling that comes with the realization that this particular  broken glass will also dent the bank account.

Joy and celebration as the groom crushes the glass under his heel.  A likely reminder of the fragility of life and love?  Or blessings as numerous as the many shards?

As she gathered up the pieces of what had been a lovely heirloom bud vase of her late grandmother’s, tears came to her eyes.   Curtains fluttered in the breeze and wafted the sugary scent of sweet peas around the kitchen.   More memories.

Sweet peas growing on the fence row.  Cool summer evenings.  Sheets fresh from the line.  Black cattle grazing in the front pasture.  Garden tomatoes still warm from the sun.  Farm kittens rolling in the grass.  Picking flowers and vegetables with her grandmother.

Dropping the remains of the vase into the trash, she sadly pondered her loss, thankful that memories are more durable than the delicate glass of the vase.  It was a fleeting sadness though – chased away by the fragrant blossoms that graced her window sill  now-but far more humbly in a jelly jar.

If Found Do Not Open


I found it lying next to the park bench among the fallen leaves, its worn black leather cover barely visible under autumn’s orange and yellow carpet.  I might not have noticed it at all if I hadn’t dropped my keys.  A very nondescript book showing years of use.  Unassuming except for the white words painted on the cover:  If Found Do Not Open.

I glanced around me wondering if anyone had seen me pick up the book.  Was it a test?  Was someone watching to see if I followed directions?    Maybe I was being filmed for one of those “What Would You Do?” shows.  Or maybe it is just what it seems: a lost book.

I thumbed the pages and contemplated the cover.

What might be found in those pages?  A diary of tantalizing bits about love affairs, petty crime, or family secrets?  Or maybe just a pouring out of one’s heart:  of past pains or dreams for the future?  Maybe it’s a useful book of grocery lists, contact numbers, recipes, and personal reminders? Perhaps it’s filled with artist sketches?  Or the musings of a poet?  Or maybe it’s the book version of Pandora’s box?  Opening it seems like a small thing, an innocent action, but what of the consequences?

I watched the afternoon sun dip below the trees as I walked toward home, only glancing back once to see the book where I left it on the bench.  Unopened.