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A Time To Live

Kennet Lawson

By Kenneth LawsonPublished 4 months ago 13 min read

“But the handle is broken.”

“Yeah, SO?”

“If you were 2000 years old, You’d have broken bits too. Hell, You’re only 50 years old, and you have broken bits.”

He leaned back in his chair, crossed his hands, and looked at her sideways, somewheres between a questioning look and I don’t give shit look.

“Well? Do you want it?”

“Well yeah, But..”

“But nothing. Take it or leave it.”

“Alright, how much did you say it was again?”

“10,000 Dollars Cash upfront.”

She looked confused for a second like she didn’t realize how much it was.

She started rummaging through her pocketbook.

“ I could take it out in trade..” She ignored his lewd stare and attempt at humor.

“Nooo No, I have it, But it’s an awful lot for a broken vase.”

.“A very old broken vase, that has a secret to tell.”

“Secrets?” she looked up from her counting a wad of bills several inches thick.

“Yeah, At least that’s what they told me when I got it.”

“Secrets make it worth 10,000 bucks?”

“Hell no, It’s worth 10 grand because of where it came from.”

Which was?”

“ You’re supposed to know your ancient vases, pottery, and stuff, You tell me.”

He sat up and picked the vase from the small shelf it sat on rather careless tossing it in his hands.

“Don’t…!” She stopped her counting short at his handling of the precious artifact.

“Oh sorry, I’m so used to handing this stuff I get careless.” he sat it on the desk in front of her.

She stuffed her bills back in her pocketbook and picked up the vase. Carefully turning and looking inside, and at the bottom. She half expected to see “Made in China” on a small silver sticker. But there was none, only marks from the spinning wheel it had been on eons ago.

He held his hand out. “Money?”

“Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot.’ she sat the base down and fished a smaller wad of bills from her pocketbook.

“10 thousand?”


“You never said what the secret was,” as she handed him several brand new bills.

“Oh yeah, sorry, It’s supposed to have a power of some kind, The old man said it held the secret of youth or healing or something like that.”

“You don’t seem very impressed.”

“ Yeah, Well, I get these stories all the time. I write them down to go with the item, but other than that I don’t pay no attention.”

“I see. And how is this supposed to make me youthful gain.?`` She picked up the vase and examined it more carefully. As he folded the cash and stuck in a shirt pocket.

“Hell, I don’t know. He was mumbling something about putting something in it or rubbing it or something.”

“And how old was he?” she peeked down the throat of the vase again.

“Older than dirt.”

“That young?” she raised her eyebrows at him and smiled at her joke.

“Yeah.” He packed the vase in a box and handed it to her.


The story he’d told her kept rattling around in her mind as she looked into the history of the vase. It had indeed come from the location it claimed to have.

And the value was constant with similar vases of that period and condition. If the handle hadn’t been broken it would have been worth twice as much.

As she moved it around her apartment, looking for just the right place to display it.

A thought occurred to her. “What if the old man was really as old as dirt?

“Nah,” she answered herself. “No ones that old.”


Twenty-four hours later, she’d packed the vase in a cooler case well wrapped and secured shut to protect it.. It was checked through customs along with her baggage and was aboard a plane to Egypt.

The ride in the land rover to the dig site where the vase had originally discovered was long and hot. Five minutes into the desert, she had sand and dust in places she didn’t know she had.

All the seller could give her was a general description of the old man. He hadn’t been the owner of the vase, but had been there at the time, and horned into the discussion spouting all kinds of nonsense.

Now as she rode in the front seat of a land rover halfway around the world from her home, she began to have second thoughts about the whole venture. But it was too late to back out now. She’d spent money, made connections all in hope of finding a crazy old man no one remembered seeing.

Every jounce and bump and jolt of the Land Rover across the desert reminded her of what the shady dealer said about her being broken.

All the money her parents had, and the fancy doctors and treatments had done nothing. Clare’s apartment in New York City, held the fancy decorations from around the world. All places she’d never been, because they couldn’t erase the pain she felt every day, just getting out of bed every morning.

Ever since she was a kid, the pain had been there. Her bones hadn’t grown right, and joints didn’t work right. Causing her constant pain. No amount of pain relief medications could completely kill the pain. As a youngster she’d fought through the pain and played sports, hoping it would push it out of her. But no, It only got deeper and stronger as she got older. Even making love hurt.

So now she was on one last-ditch mission to save her body, and thus her life.

A five-hour ride in a Land Rover had rewoken every joint that ever pained her before. When they pulled into the small settlement that passed as a village in the middle of nowhere. She drank from her water bottle and down a handful of pills. Knowing full well they wouldn’t help much. At least they might take the edge of the back and leg pains so she could walk. Her arms and hands hurt even holding the water bottle in her lap. At the feet was the cooler case with a vase.


The Land Rover pulled up next to a large tent. She leaned back and closed her eyes to both the sun bearing down through the windshield and the pain that was shooting through her legs. Sighing heavily she opened the door. A young man dressed in an old shirt and shorts appeared from nowhere and took the cooler case she handed out the door. Then he helped her get out of the car. Standing on the packed sand, she managed to stay upright between holding the open door and the man’s hand.

“Mam, we are honored to have you here. He said in broken English. His accent punctuated his words with a flair she hadn’t heard in years.

“Thank you.” she acknowledged his help.

Looking around as she was led to a large tent. She found except for a couple of small brick or adobe buildings that barely still stood, the rest of the encampment was large tents. “What had she gotten herself into? She wondered to herself as she stepped into the relative shade of a tent.

Introductions all round were made and cold drinks of every type were offered. She accepted a cold Ice tea. Sipping on a large plastic cup of ice tea, she considered her next step.

“The old man, the one with the story about the jug..” She opened the cooler case and pulled it from its foam and plastic wrapping.

They stared at it as if they have never seen it before.

“This came from here?”

They nodded yes.

“They said, an old man, said this vase was special..?” She held it up for everyone to see clearly.

“Yes.. that’s what he said..” Someone confirmed.

“Okay, I need to know, who he was, and why this vase is so special”

“He’s no longer with us.”

“He left?”

“No, he died right after the vase left.”

“Does anyone else know about this vase?” By now it was too heavy for her, and she’d put it on the ground in front of her and was barely holding the plastic cup with both hands. Heads were shaken no all around the tent.

“Please I’ve come many miles, across several countries to learn about this vase.”

They looked at each other. Finely someone in the back corner of the tent spoke.

“There was one, an old woman I think, who knew about the vase.”

Everyone turned to look at him. He stood up and approached the center of the tent. Standing in front of her. He gestured towards the vase. She nodded and he picked it up very carefully, cradling it in his arms as he looked it over.

“MM yes, this is the vase. “The life Vase” They called it.”

Someone nodded in the back.

“Yes,, I remember her. She and the old man, they swore it had some kind of healing powers. But no one believed them. It was just some old crockery they found buried in the sand.”

“Yesss.. Where can I find her?”

“You can’t. She must find you.”

“Find me? How? Where?”

“One does not ask such questions. If it is to be, she will find you. That is the way it’s always been.” More nodding in the crowd.

“But you know her? You can find her for me?” she pleaded.

“No. You must have patience. If it is to be. She will find you.”


Clare made her mind up as long as she could stand the pain, heat, the sand, and living conditions, she was staying. The truth of the matter was she had paid dearly for this trip, both in money and in the body. Although she knew she wasn’t wanted, only barely tolerated, kept out of their way as they worked to dig a new site and learn more about the ancient history.

While no one said it, it was obvious that she wasn’t welcome there.

The next fews days developed into a routine of sorts. She woke early, did necessary things before most of the crew woke up. As much as her legs would let her, she walked around the settlement , and visited the dig. Soon she was helping the support crew when she could. She helped clean and set up equipment and learned about the dig and digging from the interns who would talk to her. Once she was invited to a dig. There she sat in the shade and watched as men and women hunched in the sand with small trowels, knives and brushes worked to find anything that might be of value. At one point one of the interns let her try digging a little. She couldn’t kneel long before she was in pain. But it was fun. Until a forman came and saw her in the dig pit with the intern. Screaming and yelling insushed.

The sound of the foreman cursing the intern out echoed over the valley as she hurried to make herself scarese.

It never happened again. No one invited her to the dig again. No one talked about the dig in front of her. They ignored her when she came into the tent.

Weeks went by. The head archaeologist, Payton Warner had been skeptical of Clair’s invasion into his world. But the talk of the interns and her constant willingness to learn and help had softened him. Eventually he took her to the digs and taught her how to use the trowel and brush and the system they used to keep track of what they found. To his surprise, she was a natural.She had been a fast learner, now he knees and back let her stay in the field longer. Each week she'd been able to say a little longer. Books appeared in her tent. She read them each night by lantern light before going to sleep.

She was running out of money and time. Every day she walked a little more, and saw a little more of the county, she made trips to the nearby village to help get supplies. Sometimes paying for them herself.

At night she lay on the cot and slept. Slowly she realized her bones had stopped hurting. It dawned on her one morning she hadn’t had any pain in her hands in a while. Holding Them Up in front of her face, she worked all her fingers, they moved freely, no shooting pain, no stiffness. She tired her legs working them from the knee where she sat. Again no pain. Her back was still bothering her. But it occurred to her she was indeed feeling better then she had in years.

Outside, she noticed she felt better, the sun and wind didn’t hurt her like it had the day she arrived. She walked around the settlement. The twenty minutes walk usually wore her out. But today. Today she did it again. Taking Her time she stopped at each of the tents, The glares she received when she entered bounced off her. She was alive again. The most she’d been in decades.

The interns told her there had been word of the old lady. They said she was in the area, to hold on she would mostly likely be here soon. She’d forgotten about her.

She was sitting in a dig when the call came from a Intern on another site.

“She's here!!!!” they repeated back and forth until she got the word.

The old lady was here.

Work stopped as the old lady came over the hill. She was small but stood straight and tall. Her silhouette against the sun cast a shadow to the west as she came down the makeshift path to the dig site.

The art dealer was right. They were older than dirt.

She was short, what little hair she had left, had long gone white and was hidden by the head coverings she wore.. Her features looked like leather. Except for her eyes. The shone like black stones on a leather canvas. She could barely walk without the aid of her walking stick. But she was more alive then she had any right to be at that age.

“Clare?” she stopped in front of her. Oblivious of the crowd that surrounded them. She looked down at the ancient lady.

“Yes mam.” was all she could muster. The dust caught in her mouth as he tried to speak.

“The vase of life? You have it?” Mary only nodded yes. “It's back in my tent. I cann…”Ancient Lady shook her head no.

“No need. You are healed.”

“What?” was all Mary could get out.

“ You believed, and you acted, and you preserved, and now. You are healed.”

She turned and back back where she came from. Everyone just stared at her.

“Buttt,, The vase..?”

At the top of the hill, the Ancient Lady turned and faced the crowd. Her worlds echoed over the valley.

“The vase was the vessel to bring you to where you needed to be, to begin a new life.”

She turned and disappeared into the desert.

Clare turns to Payton and smiles. Yes. She was healed both in body and in heart.


About the Creator

Kenneth Lawson

Baby Boomer, Writer, Connoisseur of all things Classic: Movies, Television, Music, Vinyl, Cars, also a lover of technology.

I write stories that bend genres and cross the boundries of time and space.

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