Figurines by Robert Vaughan

Today my mother broke every dish in the house. The Lladro Three Wisemen were the first to go. I didn’t mind, in fact, I even helped her trash those Asian figurines that loomed on the former glass shelf unit in our living room. She’d bought them when she took a Feng Shui extension program at the local college.

The whole thing took less than an hour, and when we’d finished, mom said, “Fuck your father, let’s get in the Explorer and drive to Florida.”

My sister was starting to decoupage ash-trays out of ceramic plate fragments. “Don’t do that, Frieda,” I said. “You might cut yourself.”

Before we reached the interstate, Frieda fell asleep. In the quiet twilight, I thought about the Wisemen, broken dishes, shards of rubbish. Just before leaving the house, I’d snatched a Fu Dog head, stuffed it in my coat pocket for protection. Now I rubbed it, feeling the jagged edges at its broken neck.

I glanced sideways at mom, but she stared straight ahead, jaw clenched. I wanted to ask if we would ever come back, but I knew the answer.


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Filed under Robert Vaughan

18 responses to “Figurines by Robert Vaughan

  1. oh sad sad sad sad sad. i’ve been there. i know the breakage, it can break a heart. good story. i’m glad he brought what remained of the fu dog.

  2. I wonder what the dog head meant to him, maybe a fragment of what he’d lost? Nicely told.

  3. Frank D

    Nice story, heart-breaking in such a short span of time.

  4. I loved the action, the shattering of things that tied them to an unhappy place, yet the need for the main character to bring a part of that with him. Nicely done, Robert.

  5. JR Price

    Wow, your story is so sad, I feel for those kids. True to life, this one!

  6. Kim Hutchinson

    Saw this first on fictionaut, and loved it there, too!

  7. Cynthia

    A fantasy of mine would be to break every dish in the entire house and then see how I feel standing there among the ruins. What a stark contrast to the theme of silence this week. Great imagination, I can only hope!

  8. Wallace

    The breaking of everything really struck me symbolically in this, the breaking of a heart. I like when Frieda is decoupaging in the middle and it was as if she is trying so hard to piece things back together, things that may never get mended, as the end of your story suggests. And I also like the amorphous ending. Great job!

  9. grey johnson

    I find good mostly in the details, and you hammered me with this. The creepy-shades-of-blue Lladro, the Feng Shui, the “former” glass shelves – so many images for me to see in this very real series of events. You got a lot of mileage out of less than 250 words. Superior.

  10. Len

    i think this is my favortie story of yours. you’ve packed it all in and there are no wasted words. bravo.

  11. John Riley

    What a great story. The selection of details is pitch perfect. The mom who takes Feng Shui classes but can’t balance her life and the daughter attempting to make something out of the shattered pieces. The son turning to a Fu Dog head for protection. Excellent.

  12. Shari

    My favorite story in the collection. Such drama in this tight space. Love the twist on the theme of silence. POW!

  13. Don

    Anyone who went through parents divorcing can relate to this one. A brilliant study with just the perfect amount of details. Love the Fu Dog shard he takes. So sad, I read it over and over.

  14. kelly

    I like the ambiguity of the title – took it that figurines were literal in terms of the action, but figurative in terms of the emotional sense of the piece – broken in their own ways, shards of a some former whole, abandoning, piecing things together or finding some important part intact somehow. Nice.

  15. I read this a couple times on Fictionaut. The Fu Dog head feels so magical to me.

  16. stephen

    i like the detachment in the narrator’s voice here because it leaves so much space. it’s in the noting of which figurines went first, in referring to the assembling of fragments as decoupage, in the naming of the fu dog head. the rubbing of the jagged edge of the neck seems the only point of contact with the narrator and that’s to me what makes the piece so terribly sad.

    well played.

  17. Loved this – the mother studying Feng Shui at the local college… the noise of the destruction… the silence in the car as the mother drives away – the boy playing with a shard of glass – for me, not nostalgic; rather, portent of self-harm maybe. Scary and all too true to lives on the edge. Doris

  18. Pingback: Week #32 – Silence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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