The house is restless. It’s always like this when Mother is away.
It began the night she left. Walking through the house, turning out the lights before I went to bed, I could hear the creaks and sighs in the dark behind me. I was doing everything right, but they knew she wasn’t here. They knew I was alone.
For a few days we held an uneasy truce. It was like they were waiting for her to come back, and when she didn’t…
The rocking chair started it, of course. It’s always hated me, ever since that time when I was eight and scratched it (accidentally!) with scissors – and besides, it’s Mother’s chair down to the bolts. No one else would dare sit on it. When she’s not home I give it as wide a berth as I can when I go through that room, but it’s managed to pinch my toes under its rockers more than once all the same. As I hop away, swearing, it rolls slowly back and forth, shrieking with shrill wooden laughter.
Mother says I just have to be more firm. I say, firmer than your bloody furniture?
Then the linen cupboard joined in, swinging open whenever I turned my back and tipping everything from the shelves onto the ground. My feet tangle in towels every time I walk along the hall. The bookshelves are copycats; soon enough they were spitting out books all over the place, and what’s worse, the carpets started slithering over to cover them up. Since then it’s been a free-for-all. The deck chairs snap shut on my fingers like lawn-dwelling crocodiles. The coffee table skitters around the sitting room, hiding behind armchairs so that it is never there when I want it. Even the ottoman is rebelling. I found it hiding in the cupboard under the kitchen sink this morning, wedged right under the pipes. They are so sneaky – that’s what gets me. Can there be anything more insulting than being outwitted by your own mother’s furniture?
All I’ve got on my side is my bed, which has been mine since I was two and is staunchly loyal, and the library bureau, which is too stately and antique to get involved in antics of any description. That doesn’t mean it likes me, though. I swear it shuffles the rubber bands into the wrong corners when it thinks I’m not looking.
Mother is still in Brazil at that conference on sentient wood, but she phoned last night and promised she’d be home tomorrow.
I’m staying away from the knife drawer until she is.
© Faith Mudge 2012