Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Rocking Chair

They were in the parking lot when the sky was glowing pink from the newly risen sun, still groggy and warm from their beds.

“No respectable human being gets up this early on a Saturday- these people are crazy,” he said, looking out at the tables already covered in various purchasable objects.

“Common, we said we’d give it a try, lets give it a try,” she said, pushing the door open and melting more than stepping out of the seat.

They wandered down the aisle in half-awake states, both hating the morning and wondering why they’d taken the suggestion from a friend to try that huge outdoor flea market down on Brookeglenn.

“Here,” she said, holding up a cookie jar in the shape of R2-D2 for his approval, “isn’t this cute?”

“It’s kitsch,” he pronounced like a judge passing sentence.

She frowned at him, then at the jar, then held it back up at him with a grin.  “It’s cute kitsch.”

“Are you really going to take the time to remove the cookies from the package and put them in there just so they can go stale twice as fast?  Or are you going to eat them right out of the package and leave that to clutter up the counter?” he asked, dubious eyebrows raised at her.

“I think you’re missing the point of this activity,” she said, placing the jar back on the table among a sea of kitchen accoutrements.

“The point is to have fun by looking at the ridiculous junk people cart out, not to buy it and start the rapid decline into hoarder territory,” he said as he gave her hand a small tug and restarted his slow walk up the lane.

He stopped at a table of tools and ran a finger along the edge of a rusty circular saw.

“If I can’t get the droid then you can’t get the power saw you’re never gonna use.”

He took a breath to protest, then let it out, conceding.  They walked on, looking towards the horizon for a food tent and scenting the air for signs of coffee.

“What about this?” she said, giving a small push to an old rocking chair sitting on a blanket next to other pieces of vaguely misused furniture.  It was currently displaying at least three different colors of paint, all of which were in varying states of peeling off.  “Or no, the paints all screwy.”

“Nah, you can strip that right off, repaint it” he said, grabbing a leg and giving it a stability-testing shake.  “But where would you put it?”

“On the porch,” she said, gently sitting down, the old wood protesting with a groan.  “Can’t you just picture me sitting out there with a good book and a cup of tea?  Or some iced lemonade during the summer time?  Just rocking away, reading my book…”

“I could, yeah.  You look good in it,” he smiled at her. 

He watched her sit, rocking slightly and stroking the arms of the thing with a dreamy smile and then without another word he walked over to the vendor and asked him the cost.  Employing his best haggling skills he talked the man down from a pricey $50 to a reasonable $35 and beamed his pride at her as he hauled it up onto his shoulder and began the walk back to the car.

~

The peeling paint never got stripped and after a few buggy afternoons she retreated to the air-conditioned interior for book reading and she never made lemonade.  With some couples it would have grown as a source of contention, spreading like a cancer to include all failures to follow through with quaint plans and leading to the kind of deep resentment that goes unspoken for years until it explodes in words that can’t be taken back.

But with them, the lucky ones, it acted like a glue that held them together.  She didn’t accuse him of being lazy or of ‘never’ doing what he said and he didn’t remind her of her failed plan to drink lemonade on the porch as if she got all her ideas from Country Time commercials.  Instead they went on loving each other and sleeping in on Saturday mornings, cuddling under the covers.

Occasionally they’d look out at the back porch and spot the chair sitting, still peeling and unoccupied, and chuckle.

5 comments:

  1. I have to agree, people who drag themselves out of bed that early on weekends are crazy! But the chair? If it's sturdy, the multi-colored paint jobs simply add character. I like how they get a chuckle out of the job unfinished, the lemonade unmade.

    I've bought some power tools from flea markets before. Usually decent ones.

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  2. What a lovely story! I would like that rocking chair to sit on in the garden and read, it sounds just right. I'm usually looking too for the coffee when I go to an early morning market.

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  3. Beautiful job of pulling back on the sentimentality before things got maudlin. Instead the chair gets to be itself.

    For the record, I know several people who would give their eye teeth for a vintage R2D2 cookie jar. And my one criticism of the characters is that it doesn't even seem to occur to either of them that cookies can be home-made, not just come in packages!

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  4. It is amazing how I came to like these characters in just a few paragraphs, even before the ending. I liked how they could laugh at a mistake instead of fighting.

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  5. If I had a rocking chair I would never leave it!

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Thank you for your comment! I will love it and hug it and pet it and call it George. Or, you know, just read and reply to it. But still- you rock!