Pottery and the Sea: an Excerpt

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Written by Gracielle Dedo

The exterior world is humming a considerably different tune than the one I sing periodically as my hand guides and molds a congealed clay to prepare a small bowl on my potter’s wheel. There are no windows in this tiny twelve by eight shack that sits on a plateau overlooking the Kalon-Hygge western sea. A harsh wind squeezes its way in through the cracks of splintered oak planks. Moss has already begun to impose its life within the dampened walls.

I gathered a deep breath and took in an undertone of the ever-growing mold and mildew, oddly comforting in its familiarity. It wasn’t extraordinary by any means. But this intimate hideout was all mine, at least for now. The six other Abernathy children rarely came up here anymore. My siblings claimed it was because of the stench of the hideout or the floorboards constantly giving way. With Papa’s help, I transformed this into a pottery studio, equipped with a used wheel. On the weekends, when I didn’t work at the farms or docks, I endured the two-hour journey. Sometimes by boat, others times by foot, to Malee’s on the other side of the island. The family-owned store gladly bought what pottery I had made that week in exchange for three quois (bronze coins), a fresh meal, and lodging for the night. Over the past few years I squandered my time in that region of the island either volunteering at the shop. Helping out Malee and her two children, or roaming the streets, seeking things to bring back to my youngest siblings, Marlowe and Elora. The two girls were practically identical, one’s hair more brunette than the others, yet remained two years apart in age. Constantly, they bickered over who kept which gift. 

It was Friday night and I was overwhelmingly behind on the three-piece identical bowl and cup set I had promised the madame of the shop. Marlee befalls a plump short-tempered figure with no filter. She walked around her store with her auburn hair pulled into a tight knot atop her head, wearing a red apron over a white and brown peasantry dress. Both her sons looked nothing like their mother, completely resembling the father, a broad-chested blonde-haired man with downcast eyes. I met Marlee seven years ago, as I walked with my Papa down a street filled with the stalls of family-owned shops. She had undertaken the journey with her husband to showcase their shop’s most recent items at the summer festival. At only twelve years old, just beginning to dabble in the arts.

Marlee spoke softly to me, in a manner different than how she did to her children, presenting me with collections of mugs, cups, bowls, plates, and more. I was delighted, my mind like a child at the winter holidays, and from that point forward I visited her every week as she began to teach me the art of pottery. Presently, seven years later, her husband Gilford is bedridden. Marlee manages the shop with minimal help during the week and greatly relies on me on the weekends. Her twin sons were my age, yet we never grew familiar. Without much of a choice, as the family desperately sought money, the boys enlisted in the Petrichorian army, the highest pay grade yet greatest risk. One of them died the previous year, Beckham mourned his brother Beckett’s death poorly. When he returned home to trouble his mother, he kept a blank empty expression on his face, never willing to regard her in the eyes. That look of sorrow, devoid of emotion, shook me to my core.