February 19, 2010
Carl sat in the family room, his head in the sports page. He swung his arm at a fly.
Audrey walked in with two striped sofa cushions and stacked them on top of others. “Anytime you’re ready,” she said.
Up in her attic writing studio, Audrey had stripped the old sofa to its underwear. She stood at one end and did a test lift. Fortunately this was neither a big sofa nor a sleeper. Carl walked in, shaking his head.
“What’s the matter?” Audrey asked.
“I can’t imagine what the guy was thinking,” he said, watching her pick up the furniture. “What time is Evan geting home?” he said.
“Not ‘til four. Come on, we’re pros. We can deal with it.” Audrey propped the door open with an iron doorstop, then took hold of the couch. Carl went first, going backwards. They coaxed it through the doorway. It was a straight shot down the narrow stairs to the green carpet of the second floor.
“Whoa,” she said, and they stopped for a breather. “You know this is something a lot of families have to deal with. It’s about taking responsibility.”
“Well, it’s about time. Did you know there’s a hole in one of these arms?” She knew. They aimed for the next set of stairs, which required a right turn. “Ho, we’ve got a problem,” he said.
“No, we’ve got a sofa. The sofa has a problem.” But they did have to solve the sofa’s problem of turning the corner without getting stuck. “Just tap it,” she said. “I don’t want to chip the woodwork.” Finally they rotated it and squeezed by, which both felt was more a stroke of luck than genius.
“I’m not sure I bought the apology,” she said.
“Yeah—” he finessed the upholstered corner “—it kinda shanked. You ready there?”
“Good to go. Well, there is a girl involved.”
Carl laughed. “A girl? More like ‘girl’ to the tenth power.”
Now she was laughing. “One to the tenth power is still one. But a guy can dream.”
He looked at her funny. He was sweating now as they crossed the wood floor of the family room. “How far are we going with this, anyway?”
“The garage. I just think that a lot of guys can’t deal with their feelings in the open. It can be a trap.”
Carl almost hit a bowl of sand that Audrey had collected from her last trip to the coast. “My cousin dealt with his feelings in the open,” he said.
“And he went to rehab, Carl. I don’t think that’s quite on par with a teenage boy whose mistakes get him grounded.”
“Wait—what? Who are you talking about?”
“Who am I talking about? Who are you talking about?”
She said “Evan.” He said “Tiger Woods.” When they could laugh no more, they moved the striped beast out of the family room and called for someone to pick it up.
©2010 Pam Wells