In a little shop on an unmarked road stood an enormous painted cupboard that was very old. The cupboard stood to the right of a large window that was poorly decorated with porcelain dolls that looked out a dirty window with blank, unseeing eyes. The window was tier shaped in three sections from where a sign stood above the mercantile, that read, Flora’s Treasures.
Flora was the granddaughter from whom the shop was named, long ago. Flora was no longer running about with pigtails and dresses as she did as a child. She was a heavy woman in her late seventies who lived above the store in a small apartment with a fluffy calico cat she called Jo-Jo. Flora had neither married nor had children of her own in all these years, with her cat being the only companion she had come to love. Jo-Jo listened to the old woman’s chatter with steady eyes of green that hinted at boredom. Flora devoted her time and attention to the dolls and teacups that filled the floor and walls of the tiny space from where she sold pieces from time to time.
Flora had a sturdy rocking chair that occupied one corner of the shop and faced the expansive window. Here she would sit and rock back and forth like a ticking clock, with the bible lying flat open upon her lap. To ease her loneliness, Flora would read the words aloud to the dozens of dolls that surrounded her as though they were her own children, and she was teaching them important life lessons.
Flora always read after lunch, when the sun would heat up the floor with its yellow checkered light. She would clear her throat and peer through a pair of spectacles perched upon her nose as though she were a schoolteacher. Afterward, she would doze in her chair as the sun faded into nightfall. Flora would lock the doors of the shop and turn down the lights. She would shuffle up the creaking stairs to the door that opened into a small room that held an antique bed and matching dresser. Jo-jo would curl up on the coverlet as a night watcher of floating dust and hair particles. Soon, the old woman would be fast asleep and snoring peacefully.
What Flora did not know was that in the enormous cupboard downstairs, where dusty teacups sat sleeping, one little cup had awakened upon listening to her words. The cups name was Kile, a thick pottery piece engraved with a pretty landscape painted in bright blue and desert brown colors. Kile stood on the center shelf squashed against Mrs. Flowers and her troupe- a large pitcher of painted red peonies with six matching teacups painted all in gold. She curled her wide lip down at Kile, for having been placed so close to her and watched him with disdain from above. Mrs. Flowers was satisfied that she was at least, standing further in front of him on the decorated shelf.
Kile sensed her animosity towards him and strived to always be pleasant towards her and the others- the numerous collectables that came from all over the world. For some reason, they were proud of their markings, flipping themselves over to show the others where they had come from. Some even had numbers on their bottoms with stamped signatures. Kile did not have any fancy markings like they did. He was made by a little girl and her mother, who painted him in a happy kitchen with singing and laughter. The child’s initials were painted on his bottom beside a red crooked heart. Kile had lived with them for a long time and then one day they both just … disappeared.
Kile did not understand why he had to leave that place to come here. He missed the sunlit windowsill where morning glories grew into large blue trumpets who were always friendly towards him. His story seemed less important to the lofty inhabitants of the cupboard, so he stayed quiet about his humble upbringing and kept to himself. Kile stood in his lot and listened to the old lady as she read her book aloud, while he wondered at his own purpose in life.
Kile was interested in the man who taught in a gentle, authoritative way, the one who spoke in something Flora called parables. He liked His stories, for they were often about the things Kile could relate to: seeds, fishing nets, coins and hidden treasure. One afternoon, Kile perked up when Flora told the story of a cup that had been washed on the inside, as well as the outside.
Kile wondered what that meant.
For long days and nights, he pondered the conundrum of the soiled cup as he stood on the shelf, and seasons passed outside the window from winter to summer. He looked inside of himself and noticed stains and residue for the first time and felt the need to remove them. He scrubbed himself every day until he was shining and clean.
It so happened that on one night a great disturbance shook the tiny shop in a loud, frightening way. The floor trembled and moved from side to side as dolls, dishes and dust rained down upon the littered floor. Flora cried out in alarm from somewhere above, as Kile tipped over and rolled onto the pile of debris with all the other cups and saucers who were now chipped and broken. Mrs. Flowers cried out as her six children went flying in three directions. Kile leapt up and caught two of them before they fell into the darkness below. He set them upright as the little shop moved back and forth like an old washing machine. Chaos and fear erupted in every direction of the shop as the rumbling slowed and settled, since it was apparent that the world was crashing and ending all around them.
For a long time, nothing moved. Then the world became a hazy gray cloud with blue skies and sunlight peeking through from above. Kile was standing upon a pile of what was once an upstairs apartment that had narrowly missed crushing him. Splintered boards, broken glass and debris surrounded him on all sides. Dolls were ripped apart, crushed and missing.
Then humans began to surround the place where he stood, murmuring and taking pictures. Kile did not know why they were doing this. Some were smiling, others began to cry. Kile looked into the faces that were beaming with emotion and thought of the sunlit windowsill and the little girl.
The next morning, a photograph of a pottery cup standing upright and unbroken beside an open bible on a pile of debris made world headlines.
The earthquake that shook the fault line of the small town had claimed the lives of many, including Flora, the shop owner from where the photograph originated. Inside the cup was a full chasm of clear water, yet no one could discern from where it had come from. The bible was in perfect condition and lay open to a passage that read,
“Whoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”