Sofa; not So Good

‘It’s where it has to be,’ she told me decisively.

‘But that’s what I came over for. Don’t you want me to make your lounge more practical for you – now you’re on your own.’

‘No,’ she said. ‘Not that piece. He was going to move it you see.’ Her lip trembled. Her son had developed a sudden massive hernia and was only slowly recovering in hospital from hurried surgery a month later. ‘He won’t be coming back here.’

I wasn’t sure what she was meaning but the way she stared at the couch brought shivers all along my arms and just for a moment I thought I could see a face. The old leather cushion at its centre sagged in peculiar lines that suggested a sour and toothless grimace. There were even two beady black eyes where a buttoned trim showed along the top of the old piece of furniture.

‘Well, are you sure you want to keep it then?’ I turned away from the couch to find my cousin in tears. ‘Whatever’s the matter?’

‘I told him to leave it alone.’ She stared at the couch and I could not help but turn to look at it too. The cushion had slumped a little more; the grimace more clearly defined. ‘I TOLD him,’ she repeated but she wasn’t talking to me. She stared at the couch. The sun came out from behind a cloud and flung a ray straight in through the window highlighting the cushion crease. The grimace became a grin.

‘Let’s go out for coffee,’ I suggested. The room had a stuffy feel. The old furniture didn’t help.

Over coffee in the much more cheerful atmosphere of the local cafe Sarah told me how the couch had been left to her by an uncle.

‘I keep seeing his face in the cushion,’ she said. ‘I know he wants to stay right where he is. I tried moving it once and that’s when I ended up in hospital – remember?’

Although I rather thought Sarah a bit crazy I did remember and what a long recovery it was for such a minor scratch. ‘From the couch,’ she said. ‘But there’s nothing sharp on it.’

By crikey – this was worse than I thought. Actually I didn’t fancy having anything to do with it after that.

‘We should go out for the day,’ I said. And we did. And we said nothing more about rearranging Sarah’s furniture.

As Sarah’s son did not return to the apartment and Sarah wasn’t comfortable living there on her own, she moved to a small unit in a privately run complex. I visited her there after she was settled.

‘I see you haven’t kept the couch,’ I said. I have to admit it was the first thing I thought of.

‘Yes,’ she said, looking far more cheerful than I’d seen her before. ‘The new owners wanted to keep it.’

About a month later I saw that Sarah’s old apartment was up for sale. I enquired of the real estate agent..

‘Yes – it’s a bit sudden. The owners have ended up in hospital. They’re eager to sell – and there’s a wonderful old leather couch that goes with the apartment. It’s such a bargain.’

I wasn’t interested at all.

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