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  • Writer's pictureMckenzie Kvalsten

The Couch Painting

I was born on this couch. It used to sit in the parlor, the room we were never supposed to play in. The dark green looked even darker in the shadows of that room, where no one ever went. The parlor was full of antiques, fine china, figurines- things that aren't meant to be touched unless you are dusting them once a year. They're only meant to be looked at. And even then, if you look to long, an adult will appear and ask "What are you doing in here?" before shooing you away back into the light.

When I was eight years old we moved into a single-wide trailer from the 70's. The shag carpet was the color of old mustard and it clashed with the green parlor couch. It couldn't be avoided now- there was no other place for it to go, so the couch became part of our every day furniture. It was strange at first to use it. I still felt that at any moment I would be chastised for sitting down. But the age of antique show rooms was over, and now we were just happy to have a couch at all.

When my sister got married and moved across the country, she took that couch with her. Couches are expensive so it would be a suitable stand-in until she could afford one that was more 'her style'. It's strange to think that even in the very beginning, that couch didn't belong. In the parlor, it sat in a quiet, dark corner. In the trailer house, it was begrudgingly shoved between a rocking chair and the dining room table, the only place it would fit. And now, being hauled away by my sister, it would occupy yet another space out of pure necessity until 'something better' came along to replace it.

I hated that couch. It reminded me how we all were taken from the quiet dark and shoved into that trailer house, the only place left that we could fit. I remember practicing ballet and carefully avoiding the couch while I danced, and my teacher complaining that I never moved enough, stating once that she could tell by my hesitancy where every piece of furniture was located in my home. When my sister and I would Skype I could see the couch in the background, and it always bothered me.

Then one day, something better did come along, and my sister donated the couch. A friend helped her move it and he dropped it off, snapping a picture before driving away. And when I saw the photo, I felt relieved. This big green monster that had followed me from the day I was born was now just... a couch on a curb somewhere. Those clawed feet that I had stubbed my toes on so many times were standing out on the concrete. The couch was alone in the dark once again.

Painting 5/52

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