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Vessels

A short story in small instalments: PART XXII

Caspertina Passala woke. She’d been dreaming—was it a dream? She could see it all still, almost reach out and touch her. It was Penelope, the miracle baby, the daughter who had so salved Caspertina Passala’s wounded heart. Penelope was about four years old—the age Nora was when she died—just beyond toddlerhood, with legs getting thinner and longer, but still with the chubby belly. She was standing in the metal tub and Caspertina Passala was dipping the pot and letting the water run over Penelope’s head and down her slippery body, and Penelope was laughing and squealing. Caspertina Passala could feel the warmth of the water and she put her hand on Penelope’s stomach and felt the innocent roundness of it, and faintly, the beating heart above. It was always that particular pot she used for Penelope’s bath.

“Oh, dear,” said Caspertina Passala, “I’ve lost that pot.” For she realized it wasn’t amongst all the ones that had been returned.

Hermes opened a wrinkled eye. “Open the door,” he said in a crooning voice.

She saw the hyenas wander in, one by one, but they were so small now, no bigger than cats, and so insubstantial that they were mere shadows. They could not overpower the tiny firefly lamps burning brightly all around in the air above her.

“No matter,” said Caspertina Passala, “I don’t need the pot anymore.” And she reached out to touch her daughter gently on the top of her head. “Oh, my darling,” she said; and she closed her eyes and hastened away, away, and up into the dream.

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