Somewhere in a museum, marble walls border a room full of vases. Each vase displays qualities from behind protective glass cases. Each one rests upon plush velvet — a deep royal blue that accents the different shapes and hues of fine artistic renderings. The veins in the marble create a soft pattern and polish. Security cameras validate the assumption that this room secures valuable items on display.
People meander through. Children are taught to “not touch.” Everyone can feel the value of the place with unseen price tags that would shock the more common among the crowd. Those not shocked want to possess more of these vases for their own private collections out of sight from the throngs.
No one seems to notice the shards on the floor, swept away to an unlit corner. From the shadows, the shards remember what it was to once be whole. These shards came from a water basin, or maybe a jug for transporting figs. Whatever the purpose, the shards knew they had shape for a task. The original vase might not have been destined for a velvet seat on display, but the shards dream.
The shards dream of wholeness. They dream of Japanese myths that say that gold can mend broken vases. The shards envision how to rearrange into something new, something not seen before. They dream of purpose, to serve again. They dream of someone noticing them in the corner, someone willing to give a broken vase a break. Sometimes, the shards dream of blue velvet. Why not? The shards know beauty because they have known the pain of shattering.
Occasionally someone will step over to the shadows.
A bored child approaches, one who has plenty of vases back home. Who cares about these dumb vases in glass? There’s not a vase in the world Father can’t own. He steals a shard because he knows its naughty and wouldn’t that make Mother blush. The remaining shards sigh and rethink another configuration with one shard stolen.
A woman in high heels randomly steps on the shards, pulverizing the edges to dust. She grinds the shards under the toe of her Jimmy Choo, revering the feel of power over something already crushed. Abated, she leaves the shards gasping. Maybe it was foolish to dream of being worthy of blue velvet. Maybe it was a waste of time to find recognition as a vase.
Once broken, you can’t be whole again. The shards lie numb in the dust of what was and what could have been. That’s when the sweeper arrives.
Can even one shard have hope of being a vase again?
Hope of evolving into something more.
To be valued.
Without a second glance, the sweeper batters the pile of shards with bristles, grumbling about its unsightliness. Unwanted. Worth nothing. An imposition on his time and effort. He sweeps away the pile, scattering them down a dark, dank drain. Water flows and pushes the shards through tight places. What is left, lingers on a gritty bottom of a sewage pipe. In the darkness…
In the darkness, the shards dream a little dream. Why not? It’s better to dream of blue velvet or purpose than worry about the dark. Dreams light the inner places of the shards, and although broken and scattered, they still connect as one. A type of wholeness?
A rushing sound in the distance grows, and so much water pushes every last remnant of the shards out into a waterfall sparkling with sunlight. The shards tumble over miles of rocks and land on a sandy beach, breathless beneath moonlight. It’s so beautiful, the shards marvel, looking up into the vast array of stars on velvet so dark blue it’s black.
Can it be that stars are pieces on velvet? And yet, the shards notice with excitement, they form patterns, constellations. Now the shards dream of being stars! The water rushes in from the sea on rolling waves as translucent as green glass. It grabs at the shards and tumbles each piece in a playful game. The shards laugh with joy and go with the water.
Sometimes, from beneath the glassy filter, the shards see people on the beach. It reminds them of old dreams. Life is not so bad now, with the waves, sand, and sky. But to be valued. To be whole. It’s still a dream. People do not care about broken things. Best to remain in the sand.
A woman in bare feet approaches, toes sinking into sand. She lowers her face, searching. But for what, the shards wonder. She reaches out slender fingers to grasp a shard. The woman smiles. She shouts, “Look what I found!”
Another joins her and cries, “Beautiful!”
The companions sift around, searching for more. The shards call to one another — we are found!
That day, two women left the beach with a bucket of shards they treasured. Some shards stayed behind to experience the world. All of those found came under scrutiny. They were bathed and photographed. A man in a curio shop identified their family — a broken wine vessel from Roman times. Unusual. Beautiful craftsmanship. Broken.
Identity is not about going back. Identity gives foundation to what comes next. A sense of belonging in time but free to evolve. The women made art of the shards. One arranged pieces into shapes, mounted and framed. The other made jewelry so exquisite that one set went to a jeweler who displayed the grandest pieces of the shards in a glass case on velvet.
Great value came with price tags and news media. Pieces were made into whole projects. Of all the lives the shards experienced fractured and worn, the time spent on the blue velvet was most boring. Safe. Secure. Objectified.
Luckily, an adventurous world traveler bought the exquisite jewelry set and took the shards around the globe. Even to Rome! Which changed a lot since the shards had last seen home. Finally, the shards realized that value came from being who you can be no matter how broken.
We might never be whole again, but we can live a full life. Shards know true beauty, hope, and joy. Pieces become more valuable than the whole.
It’s been a week of healing and snow. I like one better than the other. One of our Rough Writers, Ruchira Khanna, has generously offered me long-distance Reiki and Healing Touch on my ankle. Tuesdays are quickly becoming my favorite day of the week! After she calls, I go to a quiet place (aka the couch) and rest beneath a big fuzzy blanket. Sometimes I have to shove over a dog, and sometimes the cat pesters me with her paw. I don’t sleep but fall into a warm, restorative space, watching colors swirl behind closed eyes.
I’ve experienced Reiki and HT many times before, but always in person. I wasn’t sure how the long-distance energy work happened, but Ruchira has been a caring guide, committed to helping my ankle heal. If you are curious or interested in working with Ruchira, she is accepting new clients in her practice. Contact her at email@example.com. You can learn more about energy work at Explore the World of Reiki or the world famous Mayo Clinic. Ruchira is both a Reiki Master and a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner. She offers her services to Standford Health Care.
In other forms of healing, I had another EMDR session. I get stuck in my grief over many losses I’ve experienced, one after another. It’s like a crushing weight. EMDR helps me face painful feelings and neutralize them. This week, I had a vision during my session that led to the story I wrote above. It was a big shift for me to realize that value is not about wholeness. I’m embracing the lesson of the shards.
Snow, well, snow keeps falling. This is the Keweenaw I know and love with its Winter Mistress, Lady Lake. She’s been fickle and now fierce. I love the energy of her wild lake-effect snow. Driving in it is another matter, but our city is fully equipped and experienced.
If you are curious about the ads, I will continue the space I set up for the Rodeo. Kid’s Kat explains what you need to know (look for the cat among the ads). I’m still waiting for a decision from The Continental on the Radio Spot. We had so few writers, I’m not sure what they are considering.
I’m not the most patient person in limbo, and right now I’m waiting on several important outcomes, and it’s about to drive me mad. So what is a writer to do but write? And so I am writing. I hope you are, too!
January 24, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads.
Respond by January 29, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
Stories in the Shards (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills
Danni sifted dirt from Ramona’s garden through the screen and shards of glass emerged. She had built the box to hang on a tripod to accommodate her shorter height. Thick brown crockery and glass from household items emerged. Danni would take this year’s haul to her barn, scrub pieces clean, arrange by type, and document. Every fall, when Ike’s grandmother tilled up her tomatoes and zucchini, Danni sifted for treasure. Most people scoffed at broken glass, but to an archeologist, each piece told a valuable story. One day she’d figure out why the crockery and mason jars were there.