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LAce Posted Monday, June 27th, 2005
Family Table
Michelle Garren Flye

Each morning after her children and her husband leave for the day, she sits alone in the family room looking at the wood grain of the coffee table. One morning she becomes the coffee table.

The coffee table is a big one. Large enough for a Monopoly board, four drinks (not always on coasters), and a big bowl of popcorn. Large enough for little hands to build Lego mountains and cities and for Matchbox cars to zoom along imaginary highways. The history of her family is written on this coffee table.

She slips to her knees, brushes the magazines to the side and hears them slickly rustle as they hit the floor. She lays her head on the cool surface at one end of the table. From this level, she can see dust and imperfections. Ripples, scratches and indentations. She runs one hand over the grain of the wood, light and dark together. Coffee tables, she thinks, don't suffer in silence.

The wood feels good on her cheek, so she slides further, lying full length on the table now. Her arms and legs hang off a bit. She imagines herself merging with the table, becoming one with it, skin turning gold and brown, light and dark.

Her husband will come home from work, pick up the magazines and toss them carelessly onto her back. The children will come home from school and place cold, sweating sodas on her (no coasters, of course). In the evening, the family will gather around her and she'll support the weight of their stocking feet as they kick back and relax in front of the television. This will be her new routine. And every Tuesday the cleaning service will rub lemon oil on her, erasing some of the marks of the week.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Anna McDougall on Monday, June 27th, 2005 at 1:15 PM
A mother's dream to witness wholly the comings and goings of the family, without ever having to rush away. This table is a stable contributor here, without its own agenda, absorbing all the memories of the family. Lovely, Michelle.

Posted by Alicia Gifford on Monday, June 27th, 2005 at 2:38 PM
Great work Michelle, whimsical and poignant. Alicia

Posted by Maryanne Stahl on Monday, June 27th, 2005 at 2:48 PM
well done! I especially love "she'll support the weight of their stocking feet.." don't we just!

Posted by Miriam Kotzin on Monday, June 27th, 2005 at 4:45 PM
Such a vision! You show her place in the home---and how she feels "in [her] silence." Brava!

Posted by Judy Cabito on Monday, June 27th, 2005 at 8:50 PM
If I had “cleaning people” I’d have them “rub lemon oil on” me, sort of a house-woman’s day spa. Intriguing flash that will linger in my thoughts (especially on days when I dust the coffee table.)

Posted by Sheyma Buali on Tuesday, June 28th, 2005 at 7:29 AM
Actually, it seemed sad to me. Like she wanted to sink into being the table to get away from the routine. Perhaps even the table is happier, it doesn't "suffer in silence," it gets a weekly lemon oil rub, the marks of the week get erased. I feel she is identifying with the "ripples, scratches and indentations." But that table would sure be missed by everyone in the family if it were gone.

Posted by debbie ice on Tuesday, June 28th, 2005 at 9:44 AM
Very good. Love the cleaning service erasing the marks on her. Excellent.

Posted by Leigh Hughes on Tuesday, June 28th, 2005 at 9:50 AM
I love this, Michelle! You've really captured this woman's feelings. I feel her sadness and loneliness and appreciate her wanting to be something solid for her family, even if she must stay invisible.

Posted by Katrina Denza on Tuesday, June 28th, 2005 at 10:06 AM
I love this story, Michelle! Well done!

Posted by Anne Bauer on Tuesday, June 28th, 2005 at 3:57 PM
Wow. This piece has real emotional power. I found it sad and honest. I esp. like the ending, found the whole cleaning service idea funny; and then, on the last line, the story turned again: "erasing some (some, but not all - the marks add up over time, don't they?) of the marks of the week." Great job.

Posted by Myfanwy Collins on Wednesday, June 29th, 2005 at 11:32 AM
Outstanding, Michelle!

Posted by Elaine Little on Thursday, June 30th, 2005 at 1:18 PM
Beautiful. It took my breath away. And now I have to focus elsewhere in the room - The damned table brings to many visions...

Posted by Katie Weekley on Friday, July 1st, 2005 at 1:09 PM
Gorgeous work, as always!!

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