Almost twenty years ago, the clay was enthusiastically prodded and pushed by small fingers into its rough bowl shape. A teacher scrawled a name into its underside. When it came home, exclamations were made. Admiration bestowed. It was delivered carefully, pridefully, into my hands for safe keeping.
I curled my fingers around it, knew it was a treasure.
For years, it would appear at the end of December. The boys would race excitedly around the house, searching for small bits of fluff, string, and stray feathers to line it and transform it into a fine nest for our Christmas mouse. They would decide on a special spot for her, usually by the fireplace, to keep her warm. And then, on December 21, by magic, the mouse and her nest would disappear. Come morning, the boys would hunt for her because when found, her nest would hold a tiny gift for one of them.
Sometimes you have a treasure for so long, you forget it’s a treasure. You pick it up and think of something else. You don’t remember to curl your fingers carefully around its rough sides. You let it slip, fall to the floor…
…and break your heart.