Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Couch

     The carpet that was formerly soft crunched under my feet; its fibers had clumped together after three months of staining from various, uncleaned spills. The white walls and window panes of my grandfather's house were now smeared gray, and the air, choked with dust, hung heavily over everything.
     I stood in the living room near the couch which sagged against the center of the back wall. A few months ago it had had uniform upholstery; its downy, mocha-colored cotton had stretched tightly over its cushions. Now it was tattered and covered with grime, and every so often some thin, translucently ebony insect would peek its antennae out from between the couch's springs before scuttering away.
     I remembered sitting on that couch just a few months ago, three months ago. I had cuddled into the cushions in the space next to my grandfather and he would tell me stories. He told me about his time in the military as an engineer, the time God talked to him, and the time he was stranded in the desert. Although he always exaggerated to the point of being comical, I never told him so. I just listened and laughed and opened my eyes wide. Then, he would laugh along with me, a laugh that sounded wheezy at first like it was going to be a cough, but it soon became hearty and clear. I loved the way he turned sickly things wonderful.
     Just three months ago, the house had been clean. The air, the couch, the walls, the windowsills, the tables: everything had been largely free from dust. The floor was not allowed to become stained and clotted; whenever something was spilled, my grandfather soon set to work with detergent, determination, and rags.
     Three months ago, the house, and especially the couch, offered a sanctuary for stories and laughter, for being together. Today, the bug-ridden couch sulked, stained and untouched in the corner. I stared at it for a few more moments before turning, biting my lip, and leaving.

     I meandered towards towards the front door, brushing barely recognizable memories with my fingertips as I passed. I touched the false silk of the curtains I had picked out with my father; they were now filled with small holes where carpet beetle larvae had burrowed through the fabric. I wiped the dust off of a picture frame, revealing a photo of my grandfather holding me as a baby. My hand dragged against the hallway wall, crumbling dirtied paint chip.
     Soon, I made it through the hallway to the family room on whose far wall loomed the door. Boxes full of family photos and china trinkets, anything that could be salvaged, towered crookedly beside it, ready to travel to a new home.
     My grandpa sat in the corner on the tan armchair whose fabric was the most fitted and least dirty of the five. "Hey," I said, "Looks like you're all ready to go." I had spent the day, from 8:00 in the morning to now, late in the evening, packing things for him. He was set to move in with his daughter, my aunt, so she could take care of him.
     "Hello," he said. His voice rose at the end and his eyes gazed up unfocusedly. I tried again:"I think you're ready for your daughter to pick you up, Grandpa."
     "Where are we going?"
     "You're going to move in with you daughter in California. Isn't it exciting?" I tried not to let my voice fal but almost choked on the second sentence. The thought that he would be an entire state away from my home in Nevada worried me, but keeping him close while unable to care for him would have been worse, delusional.
     "Why am I moving?"
     I looked around at the decrepit house, the peeling paint, the stained floor, and back through the hallway where I now saw a few more of the brown bugs patrolling the edges of the couch's arms and cushions. Instead of pointing out the obvious I said, "I don't know," and sat down on the arm of my grandfather was resting in. I was surprised at how well it supported my weight given the state of the rest of the house. I lightly cupped his shoulder in my hand and smiled without showing my teeth.
     Then, he asked me who I was, and I stopped smiling. I shifted off of the chair and onto the floor. I told him that I was gus granddaughter and promised to be right back. He nodded and smiled so wide that I could see his teeth and the places where he lacked them.
     I turned around and feld back through the hallway towards the terrible couch. In three months, I had been forgotten, just like the house. Now, I stared at the couch because it was the last, decaying remnant of the connection with my grandfather that I had lost.


Disclaimer:This was originally a story I wrote for school that I have now revised.

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