The couch

Summer at the beach“What do you think?” Lily asked as she circled the item for the third time.

Lindsey, with her finger pressed against her chin, looked at the item again, then turned back to Lily.   “You want the truth?”

Lily frowned as she looked at her sister.  “Of course.  I wouldn’t have asked you otherwise.”

            “Okay, but you’re not going to be happy,” Lindsey replied.

            Lily rolled her eyes.  Lindsey was always so dramatic.  “Just tell me.”

            “Fine.  If you must know, I don’t think you should get it.”

            This was not the answer Lily had expected from her sister.  Lindsey liked loud, wild, vibrant things.   And this was definitely loud, wild and vibrant. 

“Really?” Lily asked in surprise.  “Why?”

Lindsey shrugged.  “You can’t do red, that’s why.”

“I can to do red!” Lily insisted.  “Why would you say that?”

The way Lindsey rolled her eyes and let out an exaggerated sigh, indicated she wasn’t buying Lily’s argument.

“Let me explain a thing or two,” Lindsey began as she crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot on the floor.  “First off, red is a sexy color.”  Her blue gaze so identical to her sisters, swept the length of Lily.  “Clearly, you don’t do sexy.”

Lily let out a gasp of outrage.  “I can to do sexy.”

This caused Lindsey to let out a mocking chuckle.  “Please explain to me what is sexy about khaki Bermuda shorts and a plain white tee shirt?”

Okay, so Lindsey might have a point about that.  “I’m just wearing these because it’s Saturday and I’m shopping.”

“Which is all the more reason why you can’t do sexy,” Lindsey retorted.  “Now me?  Well, I can do sexy.”

This too was a true statement.  After all, while Lily was decked out in khaki Bermuda’s and a sensible white tee shirt with white Ked’s on her feet, Lindsey was dressed in a snappy tiger striped spandex top and skin tight tan jeans that hugged every curve on her body and what looked to be three-inch leopard print patent heels. 

In other words, Lindsey knew sexy.

But, Lily and Lindsey weren’t out shopping for clothing, shoes or men for that matter.  They were shopping for a couch, for goodness sake.  It wasn’t meant to be worn.  It was meant to be sat upon.  And you didn’t need to be sexy to sit on a couch.

“Oh for goodness sake, it’s a couch for Eric’s office,” Lily retorted.   

“Well, if you ask me, this couch is so not Eric.”

“Why would you say that?” Lily asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?  Eric is boring,” Lindsey told her.  “And this couch is anything but boring.”

Lily looked up from the product sheet she was reading.  A frown creased her face.  “Eric isn’t boring.”

“Sure he is,” Lindsey argued.  “He’s like white bread.  All air, no substance.”

Lily rolled her eyes.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  He owns his own business.  Of course, he’s got substance.”

“I never said he wasn’t a good businessman,” Lindsey pointed out.  “But outside of that, Eric has no personality.”

Lily ignored Lindsey’s comment.  She knew only too well Lindsey’s distaste of Eric.  Since Lily had begun dating Eric in college all those years ago, Lindsey hadn’t kept her opinion secret.  After six years, Lily didn’t bother to argue with her.  Lily had seen the men Lindsey dated.  She was hardly one to judge.

She waved to the salesman.  “Well, I think Eric will like this couch,” she said as she grabbed out her credit card.

“Seriously, I think you need to reconsider this,” Lindsey insisted as the salesmen took Lily’s card and walked away.   “I’m telling you this couch is trouble.”

Lily was certain Lindsey was making too much of nothing.  “It’s a couch.  And Eric wanted a statement piece and a red velvet couch makes a statement.”

 “You know what else a red velvet couch does?” Lindsey asked.  “It causes problems.”

At the time, Lily had dismissed Lindsey’s words of warning.  Now, a mere four days later and exactly twenty-four hours after the couch had been delivered to Eric’s office, Lindsey’s words of warning popped into Lily’s thoughts. 

Lily set her empty paper box down on her desk in her former office and began to gather her stuff.  Thankfully Eric and Janelle were on vacation and she wouldn’t have to run into them again.  Of course, they were on the vacation she was supposed to be on with Eric.  It was probably better anyway.  If she was trapped on an island with him, one of them would be dead, and that one would be Eric.

She picked up her address book and dropped it into the box.  Four years in the same job and now suddenly she was out of work.  And out of a boyfriend.  And a new couch for that matter.  And all in the space of a week.  Didn’t it just figure?  Of course, when your boss was your boyfriend and Janelle was your co-worker, that was bound to happen.

  Lily picked up the heavy crystal paperweight shaped in a heart Eric had bought for her on her first day of work.  Sharp edges dug into her palm as her fingers curled around the heart.  It took all her willpower to drop the paperweight into the trash.  What she really wanted to do was throw it against the window, shattering the glass into a million pieces.  She finished packing the few remaining items from her desk before moving to the bookshelf. 

She had just packed a stack of books when Lindsey burst into the office startling Lily.  “What are you doing here?  Is everything okay?”

“I just had the best idea!” Lindsey rushed out as she clapped her hands excitedly.  “We need to go on vacation!”

Lily looked at Lindsey like she’d lost her mind.   Today Lindsey was dressed in a lime green tube top, low rider bootleg white jeans and brown wedges.  A perpetual college student, Lindsey looked the image of a woman constantly on vacation.

“Have you forgotten I don’t have a job?  You need a job to have a vacation.”

“Oh come on!  Think about it,” Lindsey urged.  “It will be fun.  Me and you, enjoying the summer, doing nothing but partying.”

Partying all summer didn’t sound like fun to Lily.  A peaceful retreat, reading books and lying at the beach, now that sounded like fun.  But the fact was, Lily couldn’t take a whole summer off.  She needed a job not fun. 

“No, I don’t think so,” Lily sighed as she scooped up another stack of books.

Lindsey frowned as she plopped down on Lily’s leather office chair and propped her feet on the desk.  Normally Lily would have told her to remove her feet.  Now, she hoped Lindsey scratched the metal surface.  It would serve Janelle right.

“Why not?” Lindsey complained.  “It’s not like you’ve got anything else to do.”

“I’ve got to find a job,” Lily pointed out.

“And you will find one when you come back,” Lindsey returned.  “But why not have some fun for a while.  It’s not like you’ll have another opportunity at a vacation for a while when you get a new job.”

Lindsey had a point.   “A vacation would be nice,” Lily mused.

“And what about that hot bathing suit you bought,” Lindsey continued.  “That white one that’s barely there . . . don’t you want to wear that?”

Yeah, she did.  Only the place she wanted to wear it was on the warm, white sandy beaches in the Bahamas and not on the pebbly shores of Lake Erie.  Only now Janelle was getting to enjoy the sun and surf in the Bahamas instead of Lily.

Lily leaned against the edge of the bookshelf, crossed her arms over her chest as she studied her sister.  “I don’t know . . .” she murmured.  “Don’t you think I should save my money?”

“Absolutely,” Lindsey agreed.  “That’s why I think we should go to the summer home.”

The summer home Lindsey was referring too was in the tiny town of Aberdeen in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.  Their parents had bought the home when the girls were little.  Every year until the girls reached high school, they had gone with their parents to Aberdeen for summer vacation.  Once the girls turned sixteen, they realized they’d have more fun in Buffalo with their friends than with their parents in the mountains.    

“You know Mom and Dad are considering selling the home,” Lindsey added.  “This might be the last summer we’ll get to go there.”

Lily hadn’t heard that their parents were thinking about selling it but she wasn’t surprised.  They hadn’t gone up there in the last three or four years.  Still, Aberdeen didn’t sound like the exciting place Lindsey would want to go to.

“Are you sure you want to spend your vacation there?” Lily asked.  “You love Buffalo in the summer.”

The one thing Buffalo had was plenty of lakes, festivals and parties.  None of which Lily had attended in years.  Lindsey, on the other hand, hadn’t missed one in the same amount of time.

“Tammi isn’t coming home this summer,” Lindsey said, referring to her friend since grade school. 

“Really?” Lily asked in surprise, as she pushed away from the book case and walked across the room to grab a lamp she’d purchased for her office.  She set it next to her box.  “Why not?”

“She’s doing some kind of internship for her summer vacation . . .”

Clearly, by the wrinkle of Lindsey’s nose, this was not the kind of summer vacation that appealed to Lindsey.

 “Well, as tempting as vacation sounds, now would not be the time for me to go,” Lily said. “I don’t know how long I’ll be without a job.  I need to conserve all the money I can.”

“That’s the beauty of the summer home,” Lindsey retorted.  “It won’t cost us a thing.  Only some food and fun money!  And if we’re very lucky, we just might find someone else to take care of those items,” Lindsey added with a wink.

Lily rolled her eyes.  She knew exactly what that meant.  Lindsey planned on partying her way through a summer boyfriend.  Nothing could be further from Lily’s interest.

“I think I’d rather just pay my own way . . .”

Lindsey shrugged.  “Suit yourself.  But it is an effective way to save money.”

“You might not pay in cash, but you’ll have to pay in other ways,” Lily replied.

“So?  What’s your point?”

Only Lindsey would get to the heart of the matter.  Lily shook her head in resignation.  “No point.  If that’s what you want to do,” Lily shrugged.  “It’s just not my thing.”

“Okay, so fine.  You pay your way,” Lindsey urged, watching Lily as she scooped up her box and followed Lily out of the room.  “So, what do you think?”

Lily stopped at the entrance of Eric’s office.  She turned to Lindsey.  “I’ll think about it,” she said before taking a big breath.

 It took all of Lily’s courage to open the office door.  The last time she’d walked into this room, Janelle was laying upon the red velvet couch with her legs propped up in the air and her yellow dress bunched around her waist, as Eric, with his boxers pooled around his ankles, was boffing her right in plain view of anyone who might walk into his office.  The stupid man hadn’t even locked the door.  Talk about lack of professionalism.  Lily could never forgive Eric for cheating on her but the couch, why she hadn’t even had a chance to sit on it!  That was just plain cruel.

“Hey, what are you going to do in here?” Lindsey asked just as Lily pushed open the door.  “Trash his office?”

Eric’s office was a mixture of sophistication and modernity.  Abstract paintings intermingled with framed diplomas hung on the soft grey walls, plush black carpet covered the floor, a contemporary steel desk and matching chair padded in the finest leather, sat in front of a large glass window overlooking Lake Erie.  Eric’s pride and joy and what had cost him a small fortune sat in the center of the room.  It was a coffee table with a steel base and two black glass ovals that interlocked with each other and matching end tables flanked the now infamous red couch.   

Careful to keep her gaze averted, Lily walked across the room and set the box on Eric’s desk.  “I’m not trashing his office.  I’m here to gather some stuff I bought,” Lily replied as she grabbed the silver picture frame from his desk and dropped it into her box.  Like heck she was going to let Eric draw devil horns on her head or blacken out her teeth. 

“It’s a shame about that couch,” Lindsey said, drawing Lily’s attention to the one place she did not want to look.  “I did warn you though . . .”

Lily ripped her gaze from the couch, giving Lindsey a sideways glance.  “Gee, thanks for your sympathy,” she said as she picked up the bright orange vase on the end table.

She had bought it the same day she had purchased the couch.  She thought of it as a statement piece, just as she had the couch.  Now she considered it hers and as soon as she got outside she was going to trash the ugly thing and maybe get rid of some of her frustration.

Lindsey shrugged as she looked at the couch.  “Hey, I do sympathize with you.  I’m just reminding you that the couch wasn’t your style.  Clearly it was Janelle and Eric’s style,” Lindsey said as she eyed the black satin pillows on the couch.  “I just love black satin,” Lindsey added as she reached for the pillows.

“Hey you might not want to pick that up,” Lily blurted out as Lindsey grabbed for the black satin pillow that was tossed haphazardly on the couch.  Another statement piece.   “They used it as a prop.”

“A what?” Lindsey asked as she hugged the pillow to her chest, and rubbed her cheek against the soft fabric.

“A prop,” Lily repeated.  “You know . . . for Janelle’s backside.” 

“Oh God!” Lindsey shuddered as she tossed the pillow away from her face.

The pillow sailed directly for Lily.  Instinctively, she reached out to stop the pillow from hitting her, completely forgetting about the vase she held.  The vase landed smack in the center of the table, obliterating it.

Silence descended in the room as both women looked at the gaping hole at their feet.  What was left of the table was nothing more than a steel frame.  On the black carpet was shards of orange intermingled with chips of shimmering glass. 

“Oh my God!” Lily ground out in stunned horror as she stared at the scene at their feet.

Lily didn’t need to worry about killing Eric because he was most certainly going to kill her when he spotted his table.  With a bubble of laughter erupting from her, Lily turned to Lindsey. 

“You know what?  I think summer vacation in the mountains sounds excellent.”


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