Part Of The Fam­ily by Chris­tine Con­nor

Jessie loved her Six­ties sofa, but there was no deny­ing it was past its best . . .

The People's Friend - - This Week -

THEY bought the sofa when they were first mar­ried. A trendy Six­ties model with teak arms, squishy seats and hot orange- and yel­low-pat­terned cov­ers.

On the de­liv­ery day, the driver shook his head. “Can’t take it back.” “But it looked so lovely in the show­room,” Jessie wailed. “We never thought about the size.”

He sighed, fetched his tools and un­screwed the arms, com­pletely dis­man­tling the sofa be­fore he could heave it up the steps, an­gle it through the front door and drag it down the hall.

He glanced at his watch, screwed the arms back on and stuck a de­liv­ery note un­der Jessie’s nose. “Sign here, love.” Jessie scrib­bled her name and the van drew away, leav­ing her to wipe her tears on her sleeve and squeeze past the sofa into the kitchen.

The sofa had been aban­doned in the liv­ing room, wedged in front of the fire­place, the side­board, the record player and the tele­vi­sion.

When Mar­tyn came home from work, he found all the fur­ni­ture piled up as Jessie tried to re­ar­range the room.

By mid­night they still hadn’t solved the prob­lem.

“It’s hideous! This was such a mis­take,” he com­plained be­fore fall­ing asleep.

Jessie’s tears soaked the pil­low on her side of the bed that night.

In the morn­ing it was still there, a huge orange whale of a sofa de­mand­ing all of their space.

Mar­tyn flopped down and pat­ted the seat cush­ion next to him.

“But it is very comfy.”

The sofa re­mained with them all through the years of their mar­ried life.

Its plump orange shape had a star­ring role in early fam­ily pho­tos, just the two of them snug­gled on it at first, then a small child propped up in the cush­ions. It was some­times smeared with a toddler’s rusk or choco­late from sticky fin­gers.

When they moved to their next house, Jessie made sure the liv­ing-room was big enough for her sofa.

After a few years, her ba­bies turned into tod­dlers, and then into schoolchil­dren.

Then, when her teenagers turned into stu­dents and left for univer­sity, she seized her chance and had the sofa com­pletely re­cush­ioned and re­uphol­stered in a pale cream fab­ric, with re­pol­ished teak arms.

One by one the stu­dents came home again, bring­ing with them their part­ners, and then their own ba­bies were propped up in the cush­ions.

“They’re only lit­tle once,” Jessie said, dab­bing away the choco­late.

“This old thing isn’t com­fort­able any more,” Mar­tyn com­plained one evening, get­ting up and rub­bing his back.

He looked at ad­verts in the Sun­day pa­pers.

“Here, Jess, look at this. If we’re quick we can buy one in the sales.”

“But ours is so retro,” she ar­gued.

“I’ll ring the coun­cil – they’ll col­lect it.”

“But ours is vin­tage – it’s trendy nowa­days.”

“They pick up bulky items, es­pe­cially when you’ve re­tired. You’re a pen­sioner!”

“But I don’t feel like one,” Jessie protested.

“This is a spe­cial of­fer, so we can de­liver it next week,” the sales­man gushed when he saw Mar­tyn ad­mir­ing a huge black leather power re­cliner with match­ing foot­stool.

“Would you like to sit down, madam? To see how com­fort­able it is? You can feel the added lum­bar sup­port, and ex­pe­ri­ence the re­clin­ing func­tion.”

He touched a but­ton to re­cline the head­rest. Jessie winced.

“But ours is so . . .” “And look, love, it has com­ple­men­tary cush­ions!” Mar­tyn said, his eyes search­ing her face for ap­proval and his hand reach­ing for his credit card.

First thing one Mon­day morn­ing, Mar­tyn heaved the old sofa out into the front gar­den.

Its cas­tors rat­tled on the block paving and squealed as he dragged it down the path in the rain. He aban­doned it on the road­side by the front gate be­fore he drove away.

Jessie stood at the bed­room win­dow. She watched as com­muters sped past on their way to work, their cars splash­ing through pud­dles, drench­ing her sofa.

There was noth­ing for it. She rum­maged in the air­ing cup­board, grabbed some old blan­kets and dashed down­stairs, out through the gar­den and on to the road­side.

As she tucked the blan­kets around the sofa, mem­o­ries wormed their way through her brain.

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