I looked around intently examining every object in the garage sale. It was vintage heaven. From the cute Parisian postcards to the oriental pillowcases with the vine leaves intricately embroidered so carefully onto them it was almost as if they were real! If I hadn’t received another text from my friend Anna telling me to hurry up for the thousandth time I might just have bought the whole thing. I texted her back saying I would meet her in ten minutes and resumed to examine my surroundings. Just one more item to add to my collection and I’d leave. I had already picked up a trinket in the shape of an elephant, a navy blue satin bomber jacket, some jewellery, and a small leather suitcase-though frayed and worn I just couldn’t get enough of the flower print interior.
“Hey, watch your step young lady” a gruff voice said behind me. I snapped back into reality-trust me when I say I don’t zone out on purpose-and whipped my head around to see who it was. An old man wearing a scowl looked down at me.
“you were gonna’ step on that vase If I hadn’t been looking around, Angie would have my head if it broke, she always goes on about this taking good care of stuff…” he mumbled more to himself than to me. I took the opportunity to see this ‘precious’ vase he was talking about, and sure enough there was a small china vase on the ground beneath the old man’s stall. Its sides were draped in alternating painted diamonds and square shapes, while the front and back were bare. It came complete with a lid, which could be opened by lifting the knob. I wonder what it could have been used for. Perhaps it once stored some jewellery or sweets or maybe even money.
“Is it for sale?” I asked the man, trying to be as polite as possible since I had almost destroyed his vase.
“Yeah it’s for sale, but it’s gonna’ cost you a pretty penny” he replied nonchalantly.
“80$” he added without sparing me a second glance.
I considered it, and for a minute decided against the purchase, but then I thought why not, since I was about to leave and I probably wouldn’t be coming back to this town any time soon.
“I’ll take it” I said brightly. The old man glanced my way with raised eyebrows. He nodded and wrapped up the vase in newspaper.
“That way it won’t break on your way home” he smiled for the first time as he spoke.
I handed him the money and thanked him before going on my merry way.
When I arrived back to the apartment we were staying at for this road trip I was met by silence. I found a note from Anna saying that everyone was meeting at the restaurant by the pier at 8pm and I should come by when I finally arrived home (her words and underlining not mine). Since it was only seven o’clock I decided I would take another look at the things I had bought. I inspected each object with caution taking in every dent and crack-some people may not like ancient, worn out things, but it was just something about their history which made them so intriguing. I heard a sudden soft thud beside me. I turned to find that it was no other but the small vase, it had fallen on my pillow and for a split second I thought I may have broken it yet again. As I began to assess the vase from top to bottom-just to make sure there were no cracks or chips-a small paper fell out of it. Hesitantly I picked up the crumpled paper-that looked as though it had been sitting in someone’s pocket for quite some time –and began to unravel it. Scribbled onto it in impeccable handwriting was a riddle, it read: “What has hands but can’t feel? S xo”. I turned over the paper to see if there was anything on the other side: nothing. I looked closer at the writing and followed the letters as they swirled and curled around the tiny piece of paper, the ink was almost fading slightly- a lighter brown colour at the edge of the letters. Had the riddle been placed here by mistake? Or is there actually a series of clues leading up to something? Who is S? Who was this meant for? So many questions swirled through my mind. I’m not good at riddles, so it was no use trying to solve it myself. Perhaps I could ask Anna, she was good at these things. Something buzzed in my pocket. I pulled out my phone to see that it was 7:45pm. Great. I had made myself late. Without a moment’s thought I slipped the note into the back pocket of my jeans and headed out.