Spirit of the Matter, The


By Genie

I still remember the day this all first started, just two weeks ago, and cannot believe where I find myself today. Sit, and listen, and I'll tell you my story.

Yes, you feast your eyes over me, but I've not always looked this way. In reality, this is quite a new form for me. I still am in shock, estranged from the life I knew, all because of a happening so unbelievable, it seems like I am trapped in a dream (or is it a nightmare?)

I was on vacation to Malta, a tiny island in the Mediterranean. At first, I didn't really think of holidaying here, but the vacation package was cheap, and the brochures of winding medieval streets and ocean views made it seem nice.

Touching down on the flight, I wasn't disappointed. The twisting little streets of the town seemed quaint and ancient. Walking around the ocean breeze swept town, I had a sense of connection to something more ancient than myself. Delicious cuisine and friendly people seemed around every corner.

One day, during a particularly interesting stroll through town, I came to a tiny shop that was filled with clay pots of all sizes. An old woman, wizened almost to the point of caricature, was shuffling about the pots, placing them on shelves and in alcoves. The pots were intricate beyond definition. . . painted with images of dancing beasts, frolicking people, and more.

Looking up, the old woman smiled, two yellowed teeth jutting out jaggedly from ancient, filthy gums.

“You are welcome here,” she said in heavily accented English, her voice sounding like steel wool brushing against concrete. “This be my shop of Maltese spirit pots. Shall you choose one to take with you?”

Astounded at the variety, and seeking a souvenir, I simply nodded and walked through the store. The pots were varied, ranging in size from ones almost as big as me to very small, and in price from 70 pence to well over 1,000 pounds. Picking through them, a flame-red pot with intricate carvings and a smiling gargoyle painted on it caught my attention, and I picked it up.

“Ah, that is a pot of the desires. The hidden within you, that which you do not expect,” wheezed the ancient crone. “It is said that he who has this pot discovers his desires but may find that they are not as he imagines them, for they are out of control.”

Inwardly, I chuckled at the silly island superstitions. Obviously, adding mystique to the artwork would help the sale. But the artwork was exquisite, so well done that the gargoyle painted on it seemed to almost move. I knew just the place on the mantle back home for it, and decided to pay the 4 quid for the pot.

Handing the money to the old woman, she looked up in my eye. “This pot contains a mischievous spirit. Beware, for what you desire may go beyond your control and turn against you! Do not open the pot, but keep it as a reminder of the dangers of excess.”

Nodding with an “mmmm-hmmmm,” I watched as she carefully wrapped the small pot in paper and placed it into a paper sack for me.

The rest of the vacation went uneventfully, a much-needed rest from the rigours of life, but before I knew it, I was back at work, the pot forgotten by the side of the door where I left it at home after arriving exhausted on a much-delayed flight. •

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