Wednesday 19 December 2018

The Flaw by Stuart Larner

It was not until Francesca had brought the antique bowl back to her shop and inspected it beneath her lamp that she saw the crack. 

She swore at herself. How could she, the owner of one of the premier antiques shops in town, have spent five hundred on such a bowl when its value was now probably a fraction of that? She noticed that the date marks on the bowl were letters, whereas they were usually coded dots for that period of Royal Worcester. Yet, the depiction of the apples, pears and plums was so lifelike that she could almost pick them from the bowl surface and eat them.

She knew that she should not sell it at a high price knowing it had a flaw. Later discovery by an expert would publicly taint her reputation as surely as the crack marred the bowl. Then she thought of her long-planned cruise holiday, and what might happen if she had insufficient funds to cover it when the time came.  

She wondered how many of her customers would see the crack in her dimly-lit shop if she could barely see it. If a tourist whom she would never see again bought it, there might not be any comeback as it would have been offered on an as-found basis. She dared to put it in the window at eleven hundred.

Many passers-by stopped to gaze at it through the window, but none offered to buy it. In her mind each aborted purchase was a punishment for displaying it at such a high price, and each day that the bowl remained unsold in her window was a glaring reminder to her of her deception. Over the weeks she reluctantly reduced the price, and this lessened her guilt.  Then, just as she was closing early one day, a distinguished-looking man in a suit and bowtie appeared.

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