A short tale about furniture and transition.
|Mary found John in the parlor, slumped forward in the worn, overstuffed chair he’d bought all those years ago. As usual, a moth-riddled scarf hung loosely around his neck and dangled down his chest. In his lap, Sasha, one of their three cats, looked up as Mary approached. Recognizing the familiar face, Sasha yawned and lowered her head to resume her nap.
The chair was far from new when John bought it, but he liked its homey appearance, and the cozy womb it provided between its frayed arms. He’d dozed off in that chair many times before, often with more than one cat curled up on or next to him. But this time something looked wrong. John’s slump looked different. A little more compact, perhaps. Like it had settled more firmly. Like there was no longer a beating heart inside to pump it up.
Mary had often suspected the worst when she discovered her husband slouched in that chair, eyes closed, hands folded atop the latest book he was reading. But this time, his eyes were not quite shut. In the soft light of the reading lamp, Mary could make out slits of pupil staring blankly between his eyelids. And it was clear to her that this time he really was gone.
Sixty-two years of marriage had generated many happy memories, and a video biography played in Mary’s head as she reached over John’s shoulder and turned off the reading lamp. Wracked by numerous maladies that erode aging bodies and minds, John had been deteriorating for some time, and the happy memories were becoming more distant. “Goodbye, darling,” Mary whispered, as she kissed her husband on the forehead, gently picked up Sashsa, and left the room to call the children.