THE VASE

By Johannes Adriaan Snyman

“You always say its business! Do you think I’m stupid?” Adele Darling shouted at the top of her voice while Tony, her husband, looked at her in utter bewilderment.

“Business, business, business,” she continued with velocity. “Really, what makes you come home this time of the night? Every night! Do you have any idea how slow and dreadful my evenings have become, while you, in you vain imagination, throwing yourself at every possible woman out there?”

“Honey…” Tony said but she continued her tirade.

“Don’t ‘Honey’ me, you know I hate it when you suddenly switch to your pitiful sweet words! Now tell me, what pathetic excuse have you thought up now? Huh? Where were you last night?

Adele using the words “last night” raising her eyebrows in such a way that Tony should have realized that whatever comes out of his mouth next, would only escalate into further fury and vehemence from his wife.
But he didn’t come to the realization.

“Well! First of all,” he exclaimed, raising his voice, “It’s not ‘always’ business! Last week I got caught up with the invitation to see the opera, of which you my dear, were very well aware of! And secondly, last night was not work at all, but the necessary maintenance and nurturing of some of our business relations.”

A look of utter amazement started forming on the pale face of Adele.

“If you must know,” Tony continued with a firm voice, “dining with our business partners is much more of a pleasure than listening to your ranting here every time I come home!”

Tony immediately regretted his words, but anger built up so badly that apologizing was not the least in his train of thought whilst in the heat of the argument.

“You’re lying!” Adele proclaimed, with a tremble in her voice. “You’re lying through your teeth! Just like you are lying about everything!” she said while Tony noticed her glancing at a beautiful, white and blue, Victorian vase on the table to the right side of the tense battlefield between them.

“Like what exactly?” Tony said slowly in an unnervingly low tone.

“Like that vase you brought back last week,” she replied daringly. “A gift from a colleague? Am I really to believe that these expensive gifts just fly about in the work place nowadays?”

“I didn’t want to tell you,” Tony retorted.

Yes, this one time, the previous week, he was lying about the vase, but with tensions running so high in the house, he just wasn’t prepared to deliver the news to his wife, at the time. In fact, he wasn’t prepared to deliver the news to his wife ever. But it seemed like he didn’t have a choice now. Not because of his reputation as an apparent liar, but because ethically, it just had to be done.

“I’m sorry,” he started. “I truly am.”

“What about exactly?”

Tony swallowed hard before he answered.

“The Vase came from your sister. I received it last week. Your sister’s new baby passed away two weeks ago, but she is still not speaking to anyone. They’ve put the ashes in the vase, but somehow it got knocked over which has put your sister in a state of serious depression. Her husband thought it best for the vase not to be in the house anymore, so he gave it to me. I was so busy last week, that I didn’t think of bringing it anywhere else but home. But I couldn’t tell you… It was a bit much for me…”

“And you would dangle a lie like that in front of me?” Adele said unconvincingly, as she knew her husband to well, together with the fact that he would not lie about something like this.

*****