Archive for March 22nd, 2012

22nd March
2012
written by amber

The Couch

When I was small, I was very afraid of our couch. It was an old corduroy sofa with over-stuffed cushions and a reclining seat at either end and someone had once died while sitting in it.

This I knew because my big sister, Flora, told me all about it, one time when she was forced to babysit me. We were watching a movie and we were sitting on the couch. It was a scary movie, too scary for me, at age 7, but at that time I was always pestering my older siblings to let me watch scary movies.

I was being a brat – I’d hogged the popcorn and then bounced around so much, even though she kept telling me to sit still, that I spilled pop on the couch.

I was mortified, crying that Mom and Dad would be mad at me, begging her to clean it. But she said, “Oh, they’ll be happy that the couch is stained. That’ll give them a good excuse to buy a new couch.”

“Why do they want a new couch?”

“Because of the guy who died when he was sitting on this couch. Right where you’re sitting now.”

I jumped off the couch. “Don’t tell lies!” I shouted at her.

“I’m not lying. It happened before you were born.” I was the baby of the family, with a 8 year gap between me and Flora, so the others told me many things that happened ‘before you were born.’

“No way.”

“Yes, way. It was Mom’s great uncle, and he lived with us for nearly a year because he was old and sick and there was no one else to look after him. And he liked to watch TV, so he bought that big TV we’re watching right now, and he also bought this couch, ‘cuz our old one was really uncomfortable.”

“Tell me about when he died,” I begged her, horrified yet curious. I was always too curious.

She put the movie on ‘pause’ and stared at me, whispering, “The couch killed him, you know.”

“How?”

“He needed these heart pills, he kept them beside him all the time in case he had chest pains. And one night, he couldn’t sleep, so he got up in the middle of the night while the rest of us were in bed and he watched a movie. He had the pills in the pocket of his pajama top, and then he got chest pains, so he took out the pills and he put them on the arm of the couch while he reached for the water glass on the table beside the couch, but the couch was on vibrate so the pill bottle fell off and went down inside the cushions, and he couldn’t find it in time.”

“The couch doesn’t vibrate,” I challenged her.

“Not now. It has never vibrated again since he died. But it used to – what do you think that button is for?” She pointed at a button just behind the one that makes the foot rest come up.

“So how do you know all that stuff happened if everyone was asleep except him?”

“Because we found him all twisted up reaching between his seat and the next one, trying to find that pill bottle which was just out of his reach. And the ambulance guys had to take him out of our house all twisted up just like that, because he’d stiffened in that position. It was creepy! Now you know why I never sit on that end of the couch.”

And then she cleaned up the spilled pop and told me I shouldn’t talk about this to Mom and Dad because they were still upset about it, because the great uncle had left all his money to a dog shelter and nothing for them, so they couldn’t really afford a new couch or anything else.

So I kept my mouth shut, and never sat on the couch, but I watched it, convinced it had deliberately killed the old man.

Years later, when my parents moved to a smaller place after I left home, the last of their children to do so, Mom asked if I wanted that couch for my place. “It’s a great sofa,” she told me. “So comfortable but too big for our apartment. Believe it or not, I won it in a draw from a furniture store’s grand opening.”

And I didn’t know if I believed it or not.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.