Breaking Things Over Summer Break

Written in response to: Write about someone who accidentally destroys a museum’s most valuable artifact.... view prompt



I had always been an exceptionally clumsy person. I would trip over my own feet (stupid two left feet), I would run into the walls (they just get in the way!), and so much other stuff that I don't have time to explain. It's honestly a miracle that I never had to go to the hospital for any if the stuff I got hurt for. It was only ever mild; a stubbed toe here, a splinter there, but it was nothing compared to what happened when I went to the museum.

On that eventful trip, it had been me, my parents, my best friend Sarah, and my little sister Cara. (I know, Cara and Sarah. Weird, right?). We all went to the Woodsworth Museum of Artistic History in my town: Woodsworth, Alaska. It's a pretty small town. How many people in the population? Around four hundred and fifty residents as of 2015. Size? About five miles wide and seven miles long. The only important things about this stinky, run-down town are the history that surrounds it.

I'm a history nerd, I'll admit it. But the history around Woodsworth is so much more interesting than what we learn in school. There was this whole famine around apples and carrots, because that's what our main crop was back around two hundred years ago. A feud between two families had started in France, then migrated over here when the French came to the Americas. But the main kicker of our history was the art.

There have been tons of excavations in the caves and forests surrounding Woodsworth. In some caves, they found ornate pots and vases studded with small stones and gems. In others, there was jewelry and paintings on the cave walls, like what they had in the Neolithic Age. Now all of this history is recorded and stored inside the Woodsworth Museum of Artistic History. I loved coming here with my family, because they like history almost as much as I do. My favorite piece is also the most important piece on display at the museum: the Harvest Seasons painting by a native in the area around Woodworth.

The Harvest Seasons painting shows an image of a young woman in a field of corn, carrots, and potatoes. In the picture, she's farming and planting seeds to cultivate the earth. She's planting under the harsh sun, but the girl is surrounded by the four seasons. She also is planting seeds to crops that go with different seasons (I'm an art nerd too. Deal with it!).

Now, when we were at the museum, I was self-designated the leader of our group. I tugged my family and Sarah along the halls until we reached the paintings and real art.

"Ew. Why do we have to look at art?" My friend, Sarah, said. She didn't like art. She said it "messed up her nails". I don't know. She's a girly girl. That day she had been wearing a pink sweatshirt that read "Queen Bee is Me", leggings, and high heeled boots. I wouldn't be caught dead wearing any of that stuff, much less the ten or so pounds of makeup that she wore on a daily basis.

"Because I like it," I replied.

"Get in front of the case. I want to take a pic."


That's where everything went wrong.

I stepped in front of the glass case, careful to stay outside of the boundary line (I didn't want to set off any alarms). I took up a pose of a peace sign and smiled at Cara's camera, looking right in the lens. Her flash was on, and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. That's where my clumsiness comes in and ruins everything.

I tripped backwards and tumbled into the case. The glass slid off of the podium and onto the floor, shattering in a loud ring! noise. Other patrons of the museum gasped and turned towards me. i was laying on the floor, momentarily stunned. "Did I really just do that?" I thought. "Am I that clumsy?"

A clean up team raced out into the lobby where we were, helping me up and cleaning the room. I thought that everything was fine until I heard some lady from across the room yell out: "The painting! It's ruined!"

My head turned as fast as thunder towards the painting, and sure enough, it was ruined. The glass shards had impaled the painting in many places; the trees, the fields... the poor farmer lady's face. I was so embarrassed. I just destroyed a piece of priceless art! I was in so much trouble. I thought that I was going to die.

Thank goodness, the owner of the museum didn't press charges or anything for vandalism and whatnot. He just gave us a small fine (about 25% of what the fine should have been) and sent us on our way. I'm not allowed back at that museum anymore, but at least everything is fine now. Nowadays, I just look up pictures of art, print them out on my dad's printer, and tape them up on my wall (it drives my parents insane).

I am still generally just a clumsy person. I break things without meaning to (like my mom's really expensive vase that she bought for, like, $200) or my dad's printer that I use non-stop (overheating). I still run into the tables, chairs, etc. I still trip over my own feet (I swear that there is a ghost tripping me). Even though I'm clumsy, I still try to be a good person. For example, I helped my little sister bake cookies for her Girl Scouts meeting! (The girls all got food poisoning from raw ingredients, so...)

"And that's what I did this summer." I announced to my fifth-grade class.

I did a small bow and turned to walk back to my desk. Of course, along the way, I tripped over Sarah's backpack and fell flat on my face. Looks like I'll be clumsy forever.

March 16, 2024 02:41

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Mary Bendickson
00:00 Mar 17, 2024

No wonder all was so easily forgiven. Fifth grade is a ten-year-old, right.


A.B. Writer
01:56 Mar 17, 2024



Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.