A Pushcart prize nominee, Micro Award nominee, and Best of Storyacious 2013, Phyllis Green’s stories have been published in Epiphany, Parting Gifts, Prick of the Spindle, Poydras Review, The Blue Lake Review, Bluestem, The Sheepshead Review, The McNeese Review, The Chaffin Journal, Paper Darts, apt, ShatterColors, The Cossack Review, Rougarou, Belle Reve Journal, The Examined Life, Hospital Drive, Orion Headless, Apeiron Review, Storyacious, Empirical Magazine, Bitterzoet, The Milo Review, Dark Matter, and a drama in Mason’s Road; upcoming stories in Edwin E. Smith’s Quarterly,  Gravel, and Page & Spine.

Chester Drawers

Phyllis Green

This is what happened. I was trying to move my tallboy when it fell on me and pinned me to the floor. I cried out but no one heard – possibly because I live alone and my neighbors work. It took three days for Janice to notice I had not picked up my newspapers or mail. Janice lives next door and works at a hair salon. She’s six foot three and a terrible bleached blonde gossip with two-inch orange fingernails, so I can only imagine what she is telling people – that I’m a drunk or crazy or tried to kill myself with the tallboy – who knows.  

 Now I may have been delirious, I can grant you that but it seemed as if the whole thing had not been an accident. I think my tallboy targeted me, maybe to send a message to mankind. It kept me down no matter how hard I tried to get up and certain phrases still stick with me. “We were kings once. There was nothing here but trees. How would you like to be cut down and sliced and molded and screwed into something functional for lesser beings? We lived you know!

This was my tallboy talking. It was an antique given to me by my grandmother. Had it been having these feelings for a long time? And then it said, “Just because a lumberjack cuts down a living tree it doesn’t mean it’s dead. Do you realize what a tree goes through as it is sacrificed, carved, trimmed, glued, sanded, varnished, nailed, sawed, hammered, chiseled, planed, and power drilled to be made into something useful for your home? A buffet to hold wine and desserts, a table to be laden down with turkey and all the trimmings, a bed to be snored in, sneezed in, sexed in, tumbled in, jumped on. A piano to be pounded and to have to listen to badly interpreted music, the wrong notes forever imbedded in the mountain spruce soundboard or the rim posts of pine or the polished ebony veneers is more than can be endured.”

I listened to this rambling for three days until my rescue. Should we consider these coincidences or, as some conspiratorial instincts tell me, that there is a war on right in our own homes with our furniture?

When was the last time a dining room chair reached out its leg and tripped you? Remember how you fell on your face and stubbed your big toe? You were on crutches for a week. Not a coincidence, friend.

Here is my advice. There are two ways to handle this.

You can be like Malcolm Mavoy who started screaming at his furniture and whipping it with his cane (also made of wood so a double insult) and throwing his sarcasm around like “I bought you. I own you. So get used to it!”

One Tuesday night in June when the savvy little Mavoy (who resembled Charlie McCarthy and amused us with his, yes, wooden puppet he called Edgar Bergen) was alone and all his doors were locked from the inside, he was set upon and beaten senseless. He is right now, as we speak, spending his retirement money in the Home for the Very, Very Achy and Almost Dead. So I beseech you give your dresser, your bench, your king bed longing to be free, a wide circumference as you pass by.

Then you could also, if you see fit, talk nice to your furniture. Flatter it with compliments. Don’t call it “you dresser” or “you bed.” Don’t call it Chester Drawers. That’s silly. Use some originality. Give nice names. Pretty names. Try something elegant, like Reginald or Saint Jerome. For a dainty woman’s dresser, how about addressing it as Lady Churchill or Jennifer the Beautiful? Call your dining room table My Prince. You get the idea.

Make peace, not war, with your furniture. Your life may depend on it. You do realize there are way more trees than people.