Sub-junior 3rd Prize Winning Story
“Unbreakable” by Yahaya Abdullahi, St Mary's International Schools, Ilorin, Nigeria, is the Third Prize winning story in the sub-junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
My brother and I were playing a game of tag in the house. ‘Tag! You’re it!’, shouted Alim and ran as fast as his 5-year-old legs could carry him. I chased closely behind. In my mind I was thinking this boy is fast even as I watched him jump over the settee and trip as he landed, falling sideways to hit our Mom’s favourite vase, the one late Grandpa gave her on her wedding day, off the side table. SMASH!! Alim burst into tears almost at the same time the vase broke. I was equally alarmed but also happy that it was not me. I laughed fearfully and said ‘Ha! Alim, you are in trouble.’ This made Alim cry more, ‘Mummy is going to beat me!’
He was crying so much I felt sorry for him. Just then Mom came into the house. I rushed over to Alim’s side. ‘What is this? Who broke my vase?’ My Mom shouted. Her eyes were wide open and bright with surprise and terrible anger. Alim tried to say something through his tears but I started to clean his wet face with my hand and I said, ‘I am so sorry Mom. I broke the vase and told Alim that I would say it was him.’ My Mom pulled me by my left ear and dragged me to our room. Alim followed quietly behind. My Mom said, ‘That’s it. You are grounded for the rest of the holiday. No TV, no playing, no going outside. Next time you will think twice about breaking something and then blaming it on your little brother.’ As she closed the room door on me, I saw Alim’s face in the corner, his eyes very big, looking straight at me.
The door slammed shut and I felt very alone in the room as I nursed my painful ear. Why did I do that? I thought. Alim should be the one taking the punishment not me. Humph. He owes me big time. I fell asleep thinking of the ways I could get back at Alim. I woke up suddenly with the realization that Alim was not in the room with me. He had not come to bed. I tiptoed out of the room to look for him. The house was quiet and dark and I was beginning to worry when I noticed the light through the kitchen door. When I got there, Alim was sitting on the floor in front of the trashbin, picking out the pieces of the vase from inside the bin bag. He looked up at me and said in a low voice, ‘Don’t worry, Addul. When I fix the vase, Mom won’t be angry anymore. She will stop the punishment.’ I stood there looking at him then had an idea. ‘Hey, I have some modeling clay in the room. Let’s use it to fix up the vase nicely.’ Together we picked up all the pieces of the vase we could find and took them upstairs. We worked until we finished putting the vase back together, as best as we could. We fell asleep on the floor, the vase between us. It was Mom’s voice that woke us up later in the morning when she came into the room to get us. She stopped as she saw the new vase. Her eyes lit up and not so sure why, Alim and I got up quickly and between us carried the vase to her. We both said, ‘We are sorry, Mom.’
Mom took the vase slowly and shouted ‘Daddy!’ so loudly my brother and I shook with fright. Dad ran over in alarm, still brushing his teeth. ‘What happened?’ Without a word, Mom held up the vase to him like a trophy. We could not see her face because her back was to us but Dad said wait and ran away. He came back with his phone and said this was a moment he had to capture. He rounded us up, himself, Mom still holding the vase, my brother and I and took a selfie. Mom said nothing more about the incident, she forgot about the punishment and she put the vase back on its shelf. Yesterday I was looking through Dad’s pictures in his phone and saw the selfie. Dad was grinning from ear to ear. My brother and I wore tired smiles. Mom was crying.