Olimpiada de limba engleza faza nationala
Everyone who has purchased a house or who has wanted to sell a house must be familiar with some of the tricks used to convince a buyer that the house is quite special: a fire in the fireplace in early evening, jonquils in a pitcher on the kitchen counter, where no one ordinarily has place to put flowers, perhaps the slight aroma of spring, made by a single drop of scent vaporizing from a lamp bulb. The wonderful thing about the bowl, Andrea thought, was that it was both subtle and noticeab!e-a paradox of a bowl, Its glaze was the colour of cream and seemed to glow no matter what light it was placed in.
There were a few bits of colour in it-tiny geometric flashes-and some of these were tinged with flecks of silver. They were as mysterious as cells seen under a microscope, it was difficult not to study them because they shimmered, flashing for a split second, and then resumed their shape. Something about the colours and their random placement suggested motion. People who liked country furniture always commented on the bowl, but then it turned out that people who felt comfortable with Biedermeier loved it just as much. But the bowl was not at all ostentatious, or even noticeable that anyone would suspect that it had been put in place deliberately.
They might notice the height of the ceiling on first entering the room, and only when their eye moved down from that, or away from the refraction of sunlight on a pale wall, would they see the bowl. Then they would go immediately to it and comment. Yet they always faltered when they tried to say something. Perhaps it was because they were in the house for a serious reason, not to notice some object.
Once Andrea got a call from a woman who had not put in an offer on a house she had shown. That bowl, she said, would it be possible to find out where the owners had bought that beautiful bowl? Andrea pretended that she did not know what the woman was referring to. A bowl, somewhere in the house? Oh, on a table under a window. Yes, she would ask, of course. She let a couple of days pass, then called back to say that the bowl had been a present and the people did not know where it had been puchased.
When the bowl was not being taken from house to house, it sat on Andrea's coffee table at home. She didn't keep it carefully wrapped (although she transported it that way, in a box), she kept it on the table because she liked to see it. It was large enough so that it did not seem fragile, or particularly vulnerable if anyone sideswiped the table or Mondo blundered into it at play. She had asked her husband to please not drop his house key in it. It was meant to be empty.
When her husband noticed the bowl, he had peered into it and smiled briefly. He always urged her to buy things she liked. In recent years, both of them had acquired many things to make up for all the lean years when they were graduate students, but now that they had been comfortable for quite a while, the pleasure of new possessions dwindled. Her husband had pronounced the bowl pretty and had turned away without picking it up to examine it. He had no more interest in the bowl than she had in his new camera.
She was sure that the bowl brought her luck. Bids were often put in on houses where she had displayed the bowl. Sometimes the owners, who were always asked to be away when the house was being shown, didn't even know that the bowl had been in their house. Once-she could not imagine how-she left it behind, and then she was so afraid that something might have happened to it that she rushed back to the house, and sighed with relief when the woman owner opened the door.
The bowl, Andrea explaineg, she had purchased a bowl and left it on the chest for safekeeping while she toured the house with the prospective buyers and she... She felt like rushing past the frowning woman and seizing her bowl. The owner stepped aside, and it was only when Andrea ran to the chest that the lady glanced at her a little strangely. In the few seconds before Andrea picked up the bowl, she realized that the owner must have just seen that it had been perfectly placed, that the sunlight struck the bluer part of it. All the way home Andrea wondered how she could have left the bowl behind. It was like leaving a friend at an outing-just walking off.
In time she dreamed of the bowl. Twice, in a waking dream-early in the morning, between sleep and a last nap before rising-she had a clear vision of it. It came into sharp focus and startled her for a moment-the same bowl she looked at every day.
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