It’s Only Furniture by Ginger B. Collins

I drove around the corner of Lucy’s apartment complex and saw Mother’s favorite rocking chair sitting cockeyed on the lawn. Neon cardboard straddled the arms with the words “Moving—Everything must go!” A stiff spring breeze blew through the hand-carved mahogany back rest, tipping the chair back and forth as if to say, “See, I told you so.”

I rolled down the window and called to my daughter as she boxed up a 1950’s desk lamp with one hand and made change with the other. “Oh great Mom, you’re here.” She zigzagged through the hand-me-down collection of our family furnishings wearing her Lancer’s Women’s Basketball jersey. She’d worn it almost daily since PCC won the State Championship in March. Obviously the sentiment for her furniture was nothing close to the love she felt for that shirt—dusty memories versus the sweet taste of recent victory. Fickle youth. I remembered her excitement two years ago as we filled her bare apartment with these faithful pieces from three generations. Now they were being cast off, scattered in her front yard with each chip, dent, and stain magnified in the glare of morning sun.

When Lucy leaned into the car window, her eyes were money-green. “I can use the help. It’s been busy.”

“You’re selling Gran’s rocker?” I said.

“Yeah. I told you it was a small apartment. No room for this clunky old stuff.”

“But, the rocker?” I looked around and saw slices of my life strewn across the stretch of grass between building walkways. I resented the way an unattended child was fiddling with the drawer handle of the old cherry nightstand where I had stashed my pre-teen diary, and I was crushed by the snide look a man gave the spindly ladder-back chair. My Daddy hung his jacket on the back of that chair every night when he came home from work. It had been in my life for as long as I could recall.

“We talked about this Mom, remember?” Lucy was getting impatient at my memory loss and the wasted time away from her customers. “The guy over on Raymond said he’d give me a really good deal on the smaller U-Haul, so if I unload these leftovers I can save a bunch of money. You’re the one who said, ‘It’s only furniture.’ You’re the one who said, ‘Keep your life simple, Lucy.’”

I put the car in park, and got out.

“What are you doing?” she said.

“How much do you want for the rocker?” I asked.

“What? I thought you and Dad were downsizing. I heard you talking about it. Villa Gardens, right? You don’t need more furniture.”

“I don’t need it,” I said, “I want it. So, bring me the rocker before that greasy kid gets his peanut butter fingers all over the seat cushion. And, bring me the ladder-back chair, too.”

I lifted the back hatch and started folding down the seats, trying to estimate how much of my family history the trunk would hold. In a half hour’s time I had stuffed the rocker, nightstand, and chair in the open trunk space, and had enough room for Daddy’s magazine rack, Mother’s old mixer, and the clunky pillar lamp with built-in clock radio that sat beside my bed and buzzed me awake through twelve years of Catholic education. It was so ugly it was beautiful.
© Copyright 2009 Ginger B. Collins. All rights reserved.

Ginger B. Collins publishes short fiction and creative non-fiction. Her work appears in Freckles to Wrinkles, Silver Boomers, and the newly released Scratch Anthology of Short Fiction. She recently completed her first novel. In her blog, Off the Top of My Red Head, Ginger applies a past career in sales, marketing, and PR to her new role as author, sharing links and writer resources while exploring subjects like social media, agent search, and writer platforms.

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