A Wingchair's Life
Winnie; the Life of a Wing Chair
by Faith Winters
Birth. It is noisy here with the sound of hammers large and small, the regular ping, ping, ping of nail guns. It begins to take shape. What started as a pile of wood has become the frame of a wing chair. The frame was taken to the next area where springs, webbing, support linings and padding are added. The chair still seems blank and bare as it sits in a row of other blank chair frames. They all look just a like; silent, unfinished and expectant. This one is picked out of the group and taken to yet another area of the huge warehouse. An upholstery craftsman begins to stretch a beautiful green, gold and orange tapestry fabric over the frame. The soft tapping of the tack hammer sounds almost gentle as each piece of fabric is carefully fitted onto the frame. The chair begins to take on color, personality and a richness of dimension. One could even say, the wing chair comes alive.
Winnie heard the soft ping of the tack hammer as the upholstery craftsman put the last pieces of tapestry fabric on her frame. She got a little disoriented as she was flipped upside down. The upholsterer put the final dust cover and shipping tags on the bottom of her frame. Finally, Winnie was complete. The upholsterer smiled with satisfaction as he looked at her completed beauty. Winnie could sense his pleasure and approval. She felt that he saw her as thing of usefulness and grace. She was delighted with her beautiful tapestry fabric. She was covered and wrapped with packing blankets and then took a long truck ride in the dark.
The showroom of the furniture store was brightly lit. Winnie was unwrapped and put next to an orange sofa with end tables and lamps. People constantly walked by. Some stopped to look at her, a few even sat on her cushion. But most just walked by, unseeing. She tried to look her most inviting and friendly. She tried to tilt just a little bit so that the light would show her shape and colors to the best advantage. She plumped out her cushion to look as comfortable as possible. Day after day, people came and no one picked her. The orange sofa was taken way and a green one put in its place. But still no one picked her. Winnie began to wonder if anyone would ever want her. She began to doubt that she was really useful and beautiful. Finally, one family did act like they might want her. But Winnie wasn’t sure she wanted to be picked by them. The man smoked and almost dropped burning ashes on her left arm. The 8 year old boy kept kicking her back leg. When they picked another chair across the aisle she felt relief. Later a young couple came by. The woman seemed to be a little full in the middle and the very man was attentive to her needs. They saw Winnie and crossed the showroom to get a closer look. “Oh pick me, pick me.” Winnie silently pleaded. The woman carefully sat down on Winnie’s cushion. Winnie found she could fit the needs of the woman’s body providing both firm support and soft comfort. The woman really liked her and stroked her arm and back almost lovingly. The man smiled. Winnie was delighted she had a home of her own at last.
Winnie was proud of her place of honor in her new home. She sat in a prominent corner of the living room where everyone saw her as they first came in. The rest of the room was decorated in colors that blended beautifully with her tapestry design. She was given a throw pillow to accent the deep gold of her tapestry. Although the man and woman generally sat on furniture in another room when they were home alone, many people came to visit the home. During these times Winnie was always one of the most used chairs in the living room. Winnie felt a sense of delight and purpose. She loved her home and her life.
After a few years, and two children added to the home, there was more activity in the family room. But Winnie sometimes became the special hiding place of the oldest girl. She would shove a special book under the cushion, then at busy times in the family the girl would quietly come into the living room, take out her special book, and curl up between Winnie’s arms. Winnie felt a warm connection with this child who would quietly read for hours. When company came the little boy liked to crawl around behind Winnie and peek out. But most of the time the woman had the children play in the family room. Winnie would miss their laughter and their games. She was most happy when she was a part of the family’s life. But her job was to provide a place of comfort to the guests of the home, to look beautiful and be useful, to be part of the clean, formal image of the household. She wanted to do her job to the best of her ability. Then one day the unthinkable happened! A guest dropped a glass of purple grape juice on the seat and arm. Winnie was horrified. She felt like she was ruined and could no longer do what she was supposed to do. It was her first big stain. A furniture cleaner was called out and most of the stain was removed, however some of Winnie’s new luster was gone. The faint outline of the stain could still be seen, but the pillow was set over it to hide it.
Winnie was older now. After the first stain there had been a few others. Most cleaned up okay, but Winnie’s color was beginning to fade and the arms were beginning to show a signs of age and wear. Finally a brand new chair came to replace her in the living room. Winnie felt sad. She wondered what would become of her now that she had lost her youth, beauty and purpose. The man of the house picked her up and she thought a sad goodbye to her beloved living room and her old life. She expected to be tossed out in the garbage, now that her living room life was over. She almost shed a tear as he took her down the hallway. But Winnie was not throw out, she was moved into the room that the family used most! It was like going to heaven! Now she could be with her beloved family all the more. No longer did anyone tell the kids to keep off her and she was snuggled into by kids, the dog and a kitty all at once. Life in the family room was the happiest years of her life.
The kids were almost adults now. Winnie had been with them through many changes and many friends coming to play. She had been bounced on, turned over to be part of a fort and knocked over when the boys played football. She was moved to a corner, growing old and getting shabby; a favorite resting spot for the pets. Now her fabric was threadbare in a number of places. The padding was beginning to show on the arms, the stitching was loose on the cushion. Winnie felt her joints creak when one of the tall kids plopped down in her and draped a leg over her arm. There was no doubt, Winnie was old now. One day another chair was brought into the family room and Winnie was picked up and made another journey down the long hall. But this time it was not heaven that awaited her, but the cold, dark garage. She was shoved into a corner next to some boxes. She felt all alone out here. The garage was lonely, off in the distance she could hear the family laughing and having fun, but she was not a part of that life any more. Winnie’s time would have been terribly sad had it not been for the kitty. Every day the cat would come in and curl up on her cushion purring before she fell asleep. Winnie felt grateful for the kitty’s company.
Winnie was startled by all the sudden activity. For days now the family had been cleaning and moving things in the garage. Then this morning very early they opened the garage door and Winnie was moved outside to the edge of the driveway. There were tables of stuff all around her. Lots of people came to look. Winnie felt ashamed of her shabbiness. Her cover was torn and dirty, and she smelled like a cat. Not that Winnie minded smelling like her only friend of these past few years. But she saw how people looked at her, sniffed and walked on past. It reminded her of being in the furniture store, but then she was in her glory, fresh and new. Now she was in her shame, old and worn out. No one would want her now.
By the end of the day much of the stuff that the family had put outside was gone. People had come and wanted it and took it away. Winnie still sat by the side of the driveway alone and unwanted. She saw the family begin to take some of the other unwanted things and gather them into boxes to be hauled away. Winnie thought that her life now was truly over. She warmly remembered her prominent years in the living room and her warm delightful time in the family room and the comfort with the cat in the garage. Winnie thought she had had a full life. She was content that it was over now. She was ready for the end.
The tall woman came walking up the street about dusk. Winnie could see her from far away. Winnie noticed that she seemed to be talking to the flowers and admiring their beauty. Then she stopped to pet Winnie’s friend, kitty. While the woman petted the cat she looked up and saw the old, tattered wing chair by boxes gathered on the side of the driveway. She went to over and looked at it more closely. Winnie was embarrassed as she noticed the woman was aware of her smell. Winnie felt disgraced by how much of her fabric was tattered and gone. The woman just kept looking her over, feeling the frame and the springs. Winnie was almost relieved when the tall woman walked away. Soon she wouldn’t have to be ashamed anymore, she would be taken away from people never to be seen again.
The tall woman came back in a car. She looked Winnie over again. Then she talked to the man of the house. They seemed to be in agreement on something. Winnie found herself being carried once more, for the last time, by the man of the house. But instead of being taken to the garbage, Winnie was put into the back of the tall woman’s car. She was being driven away.
Winnie was in a strange and dark garage now, unsure of her future. The tall woman came back and began to take off the tattered remains of Winnie’s old tapestry cover. All the soiled padding was removed and Winnie’s frame was tightened. Then new padding was added and a brand new blue fabric was being stretched over her frame. Each piece was carefully placed and the small fleur de les pattern meticulously matched. Winnie was being born again to a new life in a new home.
Winnie now had a place of prominence in the living room of an apartment. The tall woman often sat on her new cushion, snuggled against the wing as she was reading. There was no separate family room here; the living room was an integral part of the living area of the tall woman and her husband. Winnie spent many happy years amongst all the delightful stuffed animals, beautiful glassware and books of this home, being the favorite resting place of the tall woman. Winnie felt she was truly beautiful and useful, fulfilling her purpose in life.
Copyright 2007 by Faith Winters
Pictures copyright 2007-2012 by Stephen Winters