In the end , it was that old piece of pottery that did it. Minnie, Minerva to her real friends, picked it out instantly at the garage sale she’d stopped at one Saturday on a whim. She bought it for $5 and, when she got it home, she researched and saw that it was worth at least $500. But Brad hated it, hated it, and wouldn’t even let her display it in her own office, the tiny room off to the side of the garage where she did the copyediting that kept them afloat. He wanted her to sell it, to, in his words, “monetize it,” and invest the money in his latest Silicon Valley scheme.
When she finally left Brad and moved into the tiny, dark, mother-in-law apartment behind Jenny and Shaun’s place, Minerva gave the pot pride of place: atop a small Stickley table directly in front of the one western window. She’d left Brad over that piece of pottery, well, over what it stood for. It stood, for Minerva, for her own judgment over Brad’s. For the fact that her aesthetic tastes had value. For her own ability to select the gold from the dross. For the importance of her need for beauty.
She’d been living with Jenny and Shaun — cleaning their place, cooking their meals, weeding their front flower beds, and then retreating to her apartment to give them their own space while she copyedited more paperbacks and technical manuals than she could count — for at least a dozen years when Brad showed up.
The years had not been kind to him. While Minerva had done tai chi, eaten fish and the vegetables she grew in her tiny backyard garden, and meditated every morning, it was clear that Brad, as her Southern Belle mama would have said, had been rode hard and put up wet. Jenny told her mother not to receive him; his years as an absent father hadn’t endeared him to his daughter and her partner took her part. But Minerva let him in, showed him to the ancient Morris chair in front of the fireplace, and poured him two fingers from the bottle of Bunnahabhain that a grateful client had gifted her. She listened to a lot of nonsense.
On his way to the bathroom Brad passed Minerva’s pot. He stopped, snorted, and waved his glass at it as if to topple it. “Silly romanticism,” he declared, stumbled to the bathroom, and emerged, demanding “Where’s that bottle?”
Minerva steered him slowly towards the door. Outside, it was windy, wet, and cold. She wrapped the ends of his scarf into his coat, placed her hands on his shoulders, and pushed him out before shutting the door.
Minerva set her pot on the table in front of the flickering fireplace and poured herself a scotch. She wrapped her shawl around her shoulders and listened to the wind.
Picture found here.