“Oh, look, darling, we simply must get rid of this ghastly furniture!”
Reginald Wright rolled his eyes. “What’s wrong with it?”
“Well, it doesn’t match for starters! And this green – thing – is ancient! Look, let’s order a new suite from McIntyre’s. They can do us a custom job. Top-of-the-range leather and how about a deep ruby-red? It’d suit this room to a tee!”
Reginald held his tongue. Melissa was always right. Why argue? Her mother had died and left them a respectable sum. Now Melissa had her eyes on this old pile, Dalefern Manor, along with its almost-equally-old furniture. He replaced the dusty white sheets over the suite. “Fancy a snifter at the Coach and Horses?”
“That’d be nice, Reggie my darling, but look, let me call round at McIntyre’s first.”
Reginald sighed. “Whatever you say, dear.”
Timothy was an armchair, nothing more, nothing less. For fifty years he’d stood in this living room, with its high Georgian ceiling, chandelier and a huge fireplace with towering bookcases on either side. There were three bay windows. One gazed out onto a driveway, with an ancient stone church beyond, another onto a neat front lawn and trees, and the third onto a croquet lawn. He’d heard that beyond the croquet lawn were more lawns, leading to a large circular pond, covered with wide green lily pads and inhabited by secretive carp and tench. Something he yearned to see but knew he never would.
Once he’d had a sister – another armchair – and a brother, a beautiful sofa, both clothed in deep-green studded leather, as was he, although his was now rubbed and worn. He remembered only vaguely a workshop, the zinging of circular saws, the hammering of leather mallets and the overwhelming, sweet smell of sawdust. All to the shouting and laughter of the fellows there. His creators. God – collectively, he supposed.
There came a brief period standing in a showroom with his siblings, proudly commanding a larger area than any of the other suites, much to their chagrin.
Then had come his first owners. Sandra and Kenneth. They’d poked and prodded him, dumped their fat backsides down on his tender leather. Bounced up and down, disturbing the inertia of his springs. Ummed and aahed, haggling over the price as if he and his siblings weren’t worth every penny! Then finally they’d been carefully wrapped, put in a large lorry and brought to this house.
So many memories over the years! Generations of excitable children jumping on him. Rambunctious visitors laughing and shouting at noisy Christmas get-togethers. Shouting and yelling of a different kind during spring-quivering family rows. And all those bottoms! Sometimes clothed in harsh tweed, other times soft, warm and naked. And he blushed to think how some had abused him. Wine – and worse – spilt over his beautiful leather on more than one occasion too!
Then one sad, sad day his brother and sister were taken away and replaced with a three-seater, cloth-covered sofa and armchair, the latter with a control to lift the mistress, Hannah, out and support her arthritic legs. At first, they had remained aloof and, in truth, he’d regarded them with disdain, but as the weeks, months and years rolled past they’d become friends.
But now Hannah and Derek were gone, to the great workshop in the sky, he presumed, and he and his friends, Olly the sofa, and Mavis the reclining chair, had been draped in white sheets and left to ruminate.
Timothy awoke with a start. There was a deep rumbling sound of an engine, a slamming of vehicle doors and men’s voices. Sounds he recognised only too well – a removal lorry!
“Olly, d’you think they’re taking us away?” said Mavis, in a tremulous voice.
“Oh, dear Mavis, I think perhaps so. You heard what that awful woman said about getting furniture from McIntyre’s. Timothy, what can we do?”
Timothy didn’t know what to say. It seemed there wasn’t an awful lot they could do.
“This sofa and that chair, the reclining one, they’re to go. And this green leather thing. Just a minute. Darling … Darling!”
“You called, dear?”
“Yes, d’you you really want to keep this awful old thing? You could have a lovely new one from McIntyre’s!”
Timothy felt the shock of Reginald’s bulky frame crashing onto his springs, bouncing up and down, stretching and exercising them. But exercise they were still most capable of doing, even after all these years!
He’d been carried upstairs, somewhere he’d never been before, down a corridor and into a study. The walls were lined with shelves and there were boxes and boxes of books everywhere, waiting to be unpacked.
A piano stood in a corner with a beautifully carved stool covered in pink leather. Reginald stood up, patted Timothy fondly and left the room, smiling to himself.
The piano stool addressed Timothy. “Well, hello, big boy! My name’s Susie, are you going to be in this room with me?”
Timothy blushed. “Well, yes, er, I think so. My name’s Timothy.”
Susie giggled. “He’s a bit of a porker, that one – Reginald – isn’t he? By the way, do you mind if I call you Tim?”
“Oh, er, all right.”
“Oh, how lovely! You and I will be great friends! I can tell you stories of pianists who’ve sat on me and you can tell me of your adventures downstairs!”
Timothy looked out of the window and his springs almost burst with happiness. For there in the distance was the one thing he’d yearned to see all his life; the round pond, with its lily pads and its silver water, rippling and sparkling in the early morning sunshine.
Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories
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