Childhood Furniture

Prompt: Think of a piece of furniture or an item from your childhood/young years and write about it or let it write about you.


I was very sickly and confined to the couch.  The couch was large as a house and had many rooms where I could seclude myself.  Sometimes a doctor would visit and listen to my lungs wherein dark waters sloshed.  When I was very still I could feel the tiny waves they made.  The doctor brought the medicine and I breathed it in through a mask while the noisy machine fed me through tubes.  I remained sickly for some time.  My mother vacuumed the carpet everyday while I received my treatment and this sound soothed me, her machine having a conversation with mine.  Presents were delivered to me to make me feel better but I was too weak to open and enjoy them.  When left alone, I retreated into the furthest rooms of the couch.  Where was my father?

There was a place called outside that I could see through the windows, but I was not able to go there.  The green waving things seemed friendly enough, but the light was too bright and harsh, and the dark seemed full of fearful things that I did not want to think about.

The couch was mine alone, unless my father was home, in which case I had to share.  Sometimes he would fall asleep during the day, with a thin quilt pulled all the way over his head.  He looked like a mummy.  I would quietly sneak over to where his head lay and listen to the strange sounds rattling around in his mouth and throat and chest; I imagined the bones of small animals were dancing in there and I worried he might choke.

I grew up into a big man, but I have carried with me the sickly little boy that I was, always providing for him the familiar comfort of a couch with many quiet rooms.  Despite the largeness of my frame and the strength in my limbs, I am still that boy, wondering where my father would go when he was not mummified on the couch, and what were some of the delicious foods served at my mother’s table, and when exactly did I grow up and shed my sickness, and how much of it remains dormant in me still, and what happened to the dark, magic waters that I could hear moving inside me?

Am I perhaps at this very moment asleep and dreaming on the couch, conjuring this world that I inhabit?  Did I slip into one of the moving picture shows on the big black box and forget to find my way back out?  Am I still there on the couch, too weak to raise my arms, delirious with noise and medicine and wanting, imagining that I grew up big and strong and capable of walking on fire without getting burned?


My couch is big enough for a family and I will make a fine father someday.  All the provisions we need for a good and happy life are right here in the folds and recesses and secret compartments.  I’ve amassed a small fortune in loose change and so we need want for nothing.  We will have a comfortable life.  We will host many wonderful guests.  We will live happily in a cuddle-puddle and no one will be forced to eat broccoli if the smell of it makes them ill.  All will be welcome on our family couch and no one will be turned away for arriving in an unshowered condition.  On our couch there will be room for all beings to find a seat that suits them; all honored and even the dishonored ones will find comfort and ease when their weary rumps come into contact with our cushions.

My couch is your couch.

We’re all couched in this life, together, so don’t be shy—just grab a seat and settle in next to me here.  Pull that lever right there by your feet and see what happens—ha!  I bet you didn’t think a couch could do that!        

—Ryan Stennet


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