Hilly loved the vase the moment she saw it. A flea-bitten yet no less visually arresting 1920’s porcelain study of contrasts, geometrically rigid in form with its stark horizontal lines, yet softly glazed the color of a sun-ripened plum. Purchased that afternoon from an appropriately quaint second-hand shop, two streets, yet worlds away from the fashionable brownstone where she resided as Mrs. Gerald L. Walker, she’d brought the vase home to Gerald’s raised eyebrow reception and imperious verdict of “Honestly, Hilly. How much did you spend on that?
Removing her gloves (white-cotton correct, for summer) Hilly wrapped her treasure in a vibrantly bohemian scarf (another thrift store purchase) and squirreled the purple pottery reflection of herself safely within the satiny blue sanctuary of her suitcase. Set near the front of her closet, where she could readily see it, her suitcase served as a reminder, of sorts, that a world of possibilities, however out of reach, was waiting for her.
They really did seem to crawl out from the woodwork. Relatives of every imaginable degree, gathered in the now tenantless apartment to plunder the spoils of Gerald and Hilly’s life together. The mint condition complete set of rose patterned Syracuse china. A rare and expensive 1930’s Olivewood art deco coffee table. Lalique crystal decanters-two of those. Sticky notes bearing hastily scrawled names were attached on a “first come, first served” basis.
By early evening, the swarm had come and gone, leaving only crumbs. In the bedroom closet, Hilly’s suitcase was still waiting.
As the girl unwrapped the vase, discovered inside a musty old suitcase left behind by the previous inhabitants, her breath caught in her chest. She loved it. And then, as the realization of what else she had found inside the suitcase set in-a ribbon-bound sheaf of onion skin paper, immaculate handwriting filling every sheet-she sensed she had struck gold.
The vase, now filled with a dozen freshly sharpened number two pencils, shares space on a well-used vintage desk, right next to a classic black Underwood typewriter. Lounging comfortably in the embrace of a once grand Victorian sofa, the young woman starts to read onion skin pages, and the story of Hilly-the real Hilly, comes to life.
A ghost, unseen, finds peace. And moves on.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.