Pete’s Pottery Place, at the end of Market Square, was a thriving business. A swan-shaped planter taking pride of place in the front window was certainly a drawcard. Especially when the pink and white petunias planted in its hollow back were in bloom. Most of the homes in the village proudly displayed at least one, if not several, of Pete’s unique pieces.
In fact his pottery barely had time to collect dust on the shelves before it was sold out. Mrs Jones had even given him a good price for his very own teapot when he had run out of stock in the shop. She didn’t care that it had been used already. Pete didn’t mind making himself a new teapot. He had a few favourite pieces that would never be for sale, but his teapot, thankfully, was not one of them.
Inside the workroom, Pete threw a lump of clay on his potter’s wheel and started to work it in his wet, weathered hands. Drawing up the walls slowly and smoothly, he levelled off the top and pressed out a bulge in the middle. Smiling at the result, he trimmed the base and set the pot aside to work on the lid and spout. As he worked, droplets beaded on his upper lip, moistening the whitened bristles of his moustache.
Pete returned to the pot on his bench. A rather small but sturdy piece, it would make an excellent teapot. Using his fettling knife he pushed the tip carefully through the side wall, turning it gently to make a neat hole.
“Ow! Stop it! That hurts.”
Startled, Pete dropped the knife, staring in disbelief as the pot wriggled out of his grip and rolled over on its side. Suddenly, two bulges appeared on its base and grew into short fat legs. The pot stood on its new legs, a little wobbly at first – Pete had given it a rather large girth. Then little hands grew out of the walls, first on this side, then on the other. Finally two eyes popped out on the rim and blinked. The little pot clenched its fist at Pete. “What do you think you’re doing?” it demanded.
Still in shock, Pete’s jaw dropped. None of his creations had ever objected to his work before. At least none of them had plainly told him so.
“Well?” the pot asked, impatiently tapping its foot against the bench. “I was a perfectly good pot, until you poked a hole in me.”
“I … need pouring holes,” Pete began to explain. “Teapots work better with pouring holes.”
“Teapot…?! Tea pot!” the teapot squealed, hopping about on the bench and working itself into a huff. A little puff of steam escaped out of the hole in its side. “I can’t be a teapot!”
“I need a teapot,” Pete said firmly.
“Humph!” the teapot snorted. “I don’t want to be a teapot! I want to be … a graceful swan full of gorgeous flowers.” With that, Teapot flung out its arms and tried to glide gracefully across the bench, but stumbled over its own feet instead, rolling dangerously close to the edge.
“Careful, now,” said Pete catching the pot up in his hands and placing it gently back in the middle of the bench. “You’ll spoil my handiwork. You haven’t been fired yet.”
“Fired?” Teapot blinked its eyes and sat down, almost afraid to ask, “ … what is fired?”
“Fired in a furnace to harden you and make you usable.”
“Then of course, you’ll need to be glazed and fired some more.”
Teapot’s eyes widened as it leaned back on its hands. “Why didn’t you make me graceful like a swan …?”
Pete’s voice softened. “I don’t need another swan. I need a teapot. And teapots must have pouring holes and be fired and glazed, or you’ll be of no use to me.”
“Will it hurt forever?” Teapot asked, hoping otherwise.
“Only for a time.”
Teapot was silent for a moment. “Are you sure it has to be this way?”
“Oh, dear Teapot, you must trust me. I am the Potter and you are the clay!”
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