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Demon Pipe


It was an ugly piece of ceramic. My grandfather's pipe. It was a brown shade of green, almost swamp-like and shaped like a demon with its lips pursed and one open eye. I hated it as a child and never understood why my grandfather had it. He didn't smoke. It was perched among other ceramics on an open china cabinet shelf, at my grandparents’ dacha outside of Moscow. All of the pipe’s neighbors were beautiful figurines - ballerinas en pointe, chubby babies, pouting puppies, there was even an angel or two. Except for this demon pipe. I would walk carefully by the china cabinet whenever I visited my grandparents, making sure I never came too close. Who knows what kind of powers the pipe had. The demon always looked like he was following me with his one good eye and blowing cold, venomous smoke my way. Somehow in the turmoil of immigration to the United States, I found myself in possession of this pipe. I discovered it in college when I was rummaging through a box my dad packed for me with trinkets from home. Intended to make my dorm room feel homey, I'm sure. My grandfather was long gone, but here was his pipe. The green paint was chipped in a few places. And when I looked closer the demon looked like he was winking and smiling. I laughed because the pipe was no longer menacing. The demon looked like he was blowing out a candle on a cake. Gone was the fear this piece of ceramic instilled in me as a child. I held the pipe close for a moment thankful to have something of my grandfather from the old country.


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