Isaac was walking to his car after work and passed the antique shop once again. Even though he told himself not to, he glanced in the window. There was a lawn gnome on display, surrounded by a wreath of artificial flowers. Isaac smiled in relief. He didn’t need a lawn gnome, so he wasn’t even tempted to stop inside.
He stopped abruptly when his foot hit something and looked down. There was a box marked “free” in front of the antique shop. Inside, there was a lovely white vase with blue stripes. Marianne’s roses would look lovely in it, and she’d been talking about needing another vase just last week.
He hesitated. His purchases at the antique shop were sometimes trouble. But Marianne needed a vase, and here one sat. It almost seemed meant to be. Isaac rescued the vase from the box and took it with him to his car.
When he arrived home, he presented it to Marianne. “I found it in a free box,” he told her.
She looked it over. “It looks fine. In fact, it’s perfect. Just what I wanted. I’ll be right back. She handed it to Charlie, who peered at it curiously.
Charlie held the vase up to his mouth like a microphone. “Why were they giving it away?” he asked. His voice echoed inside the vase.
“I guess they didn’t want it any more.”
Charlie rolled his eyes. “Obviously. If they wanted it, then they would have kept it. I was wondering why they didn’t want it. It looks fine.”
Isaac shrugged. “Who knows?”
Marianne returned with an armful of roses that she arranged in the vase after she’d added water. She set the vase in the middle of the table. The scent of the flowers filled the room. They all smiled.
“I love it when the roses are in bloom,” Marianne said. “This is nature’s best perfume.”
Charlie shook his head. “Oranges smell the best. Or pineapple.”
Marianne looked at Isaac. He put an arm around her shoulders. “I like the smell of roses,” he said. “But my favorite smell is right after it rains.”
Charlie hugged her from the other side. “Roses are nice, too. We don’t all have to like the same things.” He paused. “So…what’s for dinner?” They all laughed.
It was ravioli for dinner, and it didn’t take long until they were all sitting at the table. Marianne looked across the table with a smile, and then her smile fell. “What’s wrong?” Isaac asked.
“I thought I’d gathered more roses than that,” she said. “The vase is only half full.”
Isaac and Charlie looked at the vase. It did look less full than it had before. “Huh,” Charlie said. “You’re right. How weird.”
Marianne shook her head. “It’s getting late. I’ll just refill it in the morning.”
But in the morning, all the roses were gone. Marianne turned to Isaac, who was still only half-awake, and asked, “Did you take the roses out to the compost? They would have lasted a few more days. I’d just picked them.”
Isaac looked at the vase. It sat on the table looking stripey and innocent. “I don’t think so. I think I went straight to bed.”
“I’ll have to talk to Charlie about it later. Why isn’t he up yet? Could you go wake him up?”
In the rush to get everyone out the door, the vase was forgotten. When Isaac returned from work, he changed out of his shoes and pulled on an apron. It was his night to make dinner.
Marianne was at the table, arranging another armful of roses into the new vase. “What’s for dinner?” she asked.
“Corn chowder. The roses smell lovely.”
Marianne smiled. “They’ve been blooming so well this year. I think it’s just been the right temperatures for them, and Charlie’s been great about helping me keep them weeded.”
And so they had another great rose-scented dinner. As they were finishing up, Marianne turned to Charlie. “The roses can last a few days in water after they’re cut, so they don’t need to be thrown out or composted yet.”
“I know that,” Charlie said, looking a little sulky.
“Of course you do,” Marianne replied. “I was just reminding you.”
But the next morning, the roses were gone again. Marianne grumbled. “Did you take them out?” she asked Isaac.
“Of course not.”
She frowned. “I just told Charlie last night to leave them alone. I can’t believe he’d forget that quickly.”
“Maybe the vase ate them,” Isaac said. He picked it up and examined it closely.
“The vase?” Marianne sounded skeptical.
“It was free for a reason.” Isaac dumped out what was left of the water. “I’ll get rid of this one and buy you a better one that doesn’t eat flowers.”
“I don’t think it was the vase,” Marianne said. “I just need to talk to Charlie again.”
“Let me get you a new vase first.”
Marianne sighed. “If that’s what you want to do. But that one seems perfectly fine.”
Isaac tucked the vase away with his work things. He could send it off to Great-Aunt Bethyl later. She’d know what to do with a flower-eating vase. Maybe he could look for a new vase on his way home. Somewhere other than the antique store.
Luckily, he didn’t need to spend any time looking for a new vase. Great-Aunt Bethyl sent him a replacement vase with pink and green stripes. The new vase didn’t eat flowers. Everyone was happy.