Mary sat in the armchair, fingering a hole in the fabric and considering hiding her bitten-off fingernail in there. Nobody ever visited her dark musty home, so who would notice? She pushed the nail into the cavity and covered it with foam of various textures, ranging from dry powdery lumps and thick papery pieces to crispy hard nuggets. Mary lifted her finger and poked it in an itchy nostril.
She turned to the grimy window and watched a group of hikers, admiring her house. A converted barn may look oh-so-quaint to passers by with nothing better to do with their weekend than walk, but give them a bucket of lime-wash and they wouldn’t have a clue. This place needed a lot of maintenance. Since Mary lost Bert, there had been nobody to do all the jobs. He used to say, “Don’t worry, Mary my love. I’ve got it all covered. When I’m gone, you won’t want for anything.”
Yet, in those six years, the wallpaper had peeled from the walls, tiles had come lose in the bathroom and the only dinner companions were mice. They’d made themselves nicely at home.
The seat rustled as Mary shifted her weight. She ran her sticky finger over the rivets on the arm of the chair. She wondered if she’d get to the shops today or just make do with what she had in the kitchen. She could easily cut the mould off the bread again and scrape out the last bit of jam.
Under the rivet, her finger found the start of another tear. Bert had upholstered this chair himself in the weeks before he died. He said the chair would make sure Mary was comfortable for the rest of her days. Yet, here she was finding new holes. Frankly, this was the most uncomfortable seat she’d ever used. She blamed her inflamed hemorrhoids on its crinkled cushions. Cushions that felt as though they were filled with screwed up newspaper.
Mary pressed her serrated nails into the fabric, thinking of her husband and his obsession with the blasted thing. How could he have thought the saggy, noisy seat would bring her anything but neck problems and a sore bottom? She clenched the arm tight. It ripped in her grip. With her forefinger and thumb, she peeled the lose corner. She gritted her teeth and her temples throbbed to think of Bert who had left her with this inadequate piece of furniture. Pulling off the whole panel might even improve the chair’s ugly appearance.
So, with arthritic fingers, she took a firm grip and yanked the rough material. It gave a satisfying tear. The stuffing spilled out more readily than she’d expected. Not even spilled out, it floated.
Rectangles of purple and green flapped out of the chair and onto Mary’s slippered feet. She crouched over and caught a piece.
Oh Bert my love, why didn’t you say?