WEP April 2020 – Antique Vase

This is another story about Monette, a paper mage, in Vancouver, Canada, in the 21st century. Monette’s adventures started with the Feb 2020 challenge and continues in this story, inspired by the WEP April 2020 challenge.
Monette gazed with admiration at her laptop screen. The words Small Magics glittered in the header of her new business website. She just opened her independent magic agency a few days ago, and she still couldn’t suppress her excitement.

Her phone rang, interrupting her gleeful fantasies of satisfied customers and high-bracket income. Still grinning she pressed the Talk button.

“You do small magics, right?” A breathy female voice on the other end of the phone sounded desperate, interspaced with loud bursts of childish wailing. “Could you come to my home now? Please!”

“Of course,” Monette said, projecting reassurance.

Beside the phone, Spellingra, her talking grimoire, smugly rustled its pages, as if the book was responsible for this client call. Grinning, Monette skimmed her fingers over the open pages, a caress she knew Spellingra liked.

“Could you tell me what’s wrong?” Monette asked the phone.

“Just come!” the woman yelled. Then she audibly swallowed and brought her voice down. “Sorry. Here is my address. Please, hurry.” She recited her address in an affluent neighborhood, while the kid in the background kept up his incoherent bawling.

“I’ll be there in half an hour,” Monette promised. As soon as she disconnected, her smile fled. The woman on the phone sounded distraught. The problem might be bigger than Monette’s modest paper magic could handle, but she would do her best.

Fortunately, the traffic was light. She made it in half an hour and parked in front of a pretty two-storey house with a stained-glass door. She could hear the kid’s ear-splitting shrieks even before she left the car.

The young Chinese woman who opened the door had frantic eyes.

“I’m Monette, from Small Magics,” Monette said. “You called?” She winced at the especially loud screech from deeper in the house.

“Yes, please, come in. I don’t know what to do. I called several other agencies, but they all need booking in advance.”

“What is the problem?” Monette stepped inside. The decor resembled an exhibition of priceless Chinese art. Painted screens, carved red lacquer bowls, jade urns, and clay horse sculptures were almost overwhelming, stuffed as they were along all walls. Monette gawked as she followed her hostess into the living room.

There, she could finally see the source of the unending screams. A huge gorgeous porcelain vase lay on its side. A head of a child and one hand protruded from the vase’s mouth. The child, about eighteen months old, was obviously trying to crawl out of the vase, but just as obviously couldn’t. It howled like a banshee, its face red and teary.

“I can’t get him out,” the woman said tonelessly. “I’ve been trying all morning.” She hurried to the child, dropped on her stomach in front of the vase, and gripped her son’s tiny hand. She began talking rapidly in Chinese, but the boy kept sobbing, until his mother gave him a bottle. Then, still hiccupping and sniffling in outrage, he started drinking.

Monette circled the vase and gazed at its entrance in puzzlement. It was certainly large enough to allow the kid in or out. Why couldn’t he get out? Perhaps something trapped him inside.

“Have you tried to break the vase?” Monette asked.

“No. My husband would be very unhappy,” the woman said quietly, her hand caressing the child’s short spiky black hair, matted with sweat and snot. “It is an antique. Ming Dynasty. Lance should be able to crawl out. I don’t know why he can’t. Maybe your magic could help.”

“Maybe,” Monette said. She couldn’t feel any traces of magic, even though she stood one step away from the vase. She should probe deeper. She crouched at the back of the vase, out of sight from its mouth, where the child was trapped, and cautiously put her hand on the painted side. Simultaneously, she opened her magical senses as wide as they would go.

And snatched her hand right away real fast. “Yes, definitely magic, and well camouflaged too. You wouldn’t be able to break this vase even if you tried,” she said. “There is an imp living inside. It’s bound to the vase and it doesn’t want your kid to escape.”

The woman jerked her head to stare at Monette. “An imp?” she whispered; her eyes wide with dismay. “Xiao? Can you do anything?”

Monette wracked her brain, trying to remember what she knew about the magical Chinese creatures. What would this xiao like well enough to give up the child? Maybe something shiny? Gems? Glittering bugs?

Yes, that was it. She pulled out her painting supplies and started drawing. When she was finished, she coaxed her creations off the page with magic, and they crowded into her hand, a half-dozen bugs with a strange number of legs and carapaces gleaming with all colors of the rainbow. She sprinkled more magic at them. “Don’t get caught,” she whispered and tipped her palm into the vase.

They scuttled inside. The kid squealed in surprise and tried to catch one. He even abandoned his bottle. The mother kept silent. The vase started rocking. Yes, the imp definitely liked her sparkling insects.

“Try to pull him out, gently,” Monette murmured.

“Yes!” the woman breathed, tightened her hands on her son, and still on her stomach, wriggled back away from the oscillating vase. The kid’s shoulders emerged, then his legs, and then he slipped free.

He stunk like nine hells; his diaper apparently too full to hold the stink anymore. The mother gave one heart-felt sob, scrambled to her feet, and whisked her son away. His yowls reverberated in Monette’s ears. He would be fine, she thought, judging from the excellent condition of his lungs.

Monette sighed happily, gathered her painting stuff, pulled out her Kindle, and settled on a sofa to read and wait for the mother to come back. She needed to collect her pay.

She didn’t worry about her painted beetles: they would disintegrate as soon as the magic she had invested in them was exhausted. As for a permanent solution to the imp infestation, she was glad it wasn’t her problem. She was only Small Magics after all.

This entry was posted in Olga Godim, WEP. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to WEP April 2020 – Antique Vase

  1. It is very early in the morning here.
    I am smiling broadly and hope (even without Monette’s assistance) to see some small magic today.
    Thank you.

  2. Denise Covey says:

    Wonderful, Olga. What a magical mind you have. Who’d have thought of a baby stuck in a vase? You! Loved it and found I was smiling from start to finish. She might be Small Magic, but she has big ideas. Thanks for a magical entry for ANTIQUE VASE.
    Hope all goes well.

  3. It’s unbelievable the way your mind works. Never would I have put these elements together, but what a wonderful story you’ve woven. I love the way Small Magics is able to manipulate the paper by drawing the solution, and one the disappears after a while. But I have to admit I want to know what happens to the Imp. 🙂
    Great entry for the Antique Vase challenge!
    Stay positive, stay safe, and wishing you all health!

  4. hilarymb says:

    Hi Olga – great imagination for a story … so well told, and so well deciphered with Monette’s Small Magic … and as Renee says … I want to know more about the imp – mind you the mother and child could have some interesting extra tales. What a completely different take … thank you – take care – Hilary

  5. patgarcia says:

    Excellent story. I was intrigued by the imp inside the vase. Now, what will the mother do? Since I have been writing for the WEP, I am always amazed at the creativity within our circle. An excellent take on the prompt,
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  6. Jemi Fraser says:

    Love this! It sparkles with joy and magic! Beautiful 🙂

  7. Cara Hartley says:

    Very clever! I do hope that the mother keeps the vase well out of her child’s reach from now on.
    ~cie from team netherworld~

  8. wordweiver says:

    Spectacular. Truly magical and breathtaking.

  9. Karuna says:

    Ha! That was fun! I admit I can be slow to warm to some fantasy writings. But I got hooked not too far in. I really appreciate the way you are bringing magic to a modern world. She saves a baby from an imp in a bottle and then pulls out her Kindle to wait. Nice! Made me smile and I really enjoyed the read! Thanks

  10. This is fantastic. I love the magic you added to the story. And I didn’t at all see what happened to the baby coming. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks.

  11. Toi Thomas says:

    I adore your serial-style story continuations. Monette’s adventure today was certainly entertaining. So clever and practical. Thanks for bringing a little magic into this day.

  12. Rebecca Douglass says:

    I like it. The idea of paper magics, and small magic in general, is interesting and appealing. I hope the mom remembers to come back and pay her well!

  13. L.G. Keltner says:

    This is a clever and fun little story. I could easily see one of my kids getting into a similar predicament.

  14. jlennidorner says:

    That’s a fun story. It makes you think twice about having such a large vase with children around!

  15. Ha, ha, wonderfully entertaining Olga. A gripping read and so well wrapped up. Well done. Lovely to see Monette again. I’d like to meet her. Any prospects of a novel or collection of her stories ? Happy spring.

  16. Sally says:

    Fantastic story, well told and certainly had me entranced.

  17. Donna Hanton says:

    I loved this story, light and sparkly like those bugs! So much originality and imagination–well done!

  18. A truly original and entertaining tale. Even if it makes me wonder what other vessels inside the woman’s home, are more than they appear to be. Well done, Olga.

  19. rolandclarke says:

    Another paper mage Monette tale to brighten my day, Olga. From the talking grimoire to the rainbow beetles I was captivated, transported to your world. Strange you chose a Ming Dynasty vase as that was the first vase I considered. Fun details and humour too. Hope there is more Monette magic next Challenge.

  20. Jemima Pett says:

    That’s wonderful. So inventive. I must hunt out more of your Small Magics stories!

  21. Kalpana says:

    What an original story and how I love the solution! Quite quite masterful.

  22. Nilanjana Bose says:

    Lovely mother and child story. Monette somehow reminds me of Mma Precious Ramotswe, though both the characters and settings are completely different. Maybe it’s the small/strange problem fixer aspect, the same comfort quotient.

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