CHATTEL CHATTER (214 words)

TexasPoet

When Is It Dark Enough?
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Thursday it was the sofa’s turn, today it’s the ottoman’s chance. We’re moving through a clockwise queue in the living room. The clock goes last.

Each night one piece of furniture in this dark house ventures out on the dimly lit sidewalks and peeks into the houses that still have people.

Every time one of us returns, it comes back with news of the neighborhood; the Skinners sit on chairs at the dinner table for supper, Mr. Klein’s asleep on the couch (his fat cheek pressed affectionately against a cushion), the Nelsons are watching TV sitting in its warm white glow. Each relays his news with a sad jealousy.

The picture frames don’t want to let go of the past, pulling their sharp corners tightly around the photos of those long gone loved-ones to wherever humans go when their utility is over.

The sun comes and leaves, comes and leaves, comes and leaves, through the pulled shades, the television has something to say, but never can find the words to say it.

Dust settles on the antique radio’s patina. “Wasn’t there dancing here once,” the lonely dial asks.

One day, some young couple will buy this house, then we’ll be tossed into a dumpster, waiting for our plastic-coated replacements to march by us, bidding us farewell, telling us they’ll never suffer our fate. They have to say that, because they know in their tufted hearts and upholstered faces, it isn’t true.




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Thursday it was the sofa’s turn, today it’s the ottoman’s chance. We’re moving through a clockwise queue in the living room. The clock goes last.

Each night one piece of furniture in this dark house ventures out on the dimly lit sidewalks and peeks into the houses that still have people.

Every time one of us returns, it comes back with news of the neighborhood; the Skinners at supper, Mr. Klein’s asleep on the couch, the Nelsons are watching TV. Each relays his news with a sad jealousy.

The picture frames don’t want to let go of the past, pulling their sharp corners tightly around the photos of those long gone to wherever humans go when their utility is over.

The sun comes and leaves, comes and leaves, comes and leaves, through the pulled shades, the television has something to say, but can never does.

Dust settles on the varnished floors. “Wasn’t there dancing here once,” the lonely boards ask.

One day, some young couple will buy this house, then we’ll be tossed into a dumpster, waiting for our plastic-coated replacements to march by us, bidding us farewell, telling us they’ll never suffer our fate. They have to say that, because they know in their tufted hearts and upholstered faces, it isn’t true.
 
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Joseph Schmol

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Hi, TP. Thanks for sharing.

A few thoughts:

* I like the original premise: furniture on the prowl! very original;
* the title suggests "chatter," yet the only dialogue comes from the floor (because attached, not actually chattel)?
* I really would have liked more news of the neighborhood;
* I think I'd give the TV its own sentence -- funny understated dig;
* the ending felt forced: everything ages/decays & I don't feel enough attachment to the chattel to mourn their demise.

Fun story though.
 

Gunpowder Nash

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I like the whole concept...imagine jealous furniture in an empty house. Good story!

I probably know the least on this site about proper grammar, but this line:
Every time one of us returns, it comes back with news of the neighborhood
seemed like it should be:
Every time one of us returns, we come back with news of the neighborhood
Since the MC is "one of us", he wouldn't refer to his companion as an "it".
 

TexasPoet

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Thanks, GPN.

I'll give it some thought and send it to a grammar expert to see what she says.

TP :)
 

Elenita

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This concept is awesome! I would love to see it developed into a longer story, it could be sad and funny at the same time. I think if you make it longer more dialogue from the furniture would be really interesting. Thank you for sharing this great piece!
 

Hedwig

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Hi TexasPoet,

I really enjoyed this. It was so poetic. It actually reminded me of a poem called "Junk" by Richard Wilbur (my favorite). It also reminded me that I had once thought to try something very similar to this, except that I attempted one story per piece of furniture. I have to say, your execution of this idea is wildly superior to mine. I appreciated how there was such emotional context with such an economy of words. Well done.

I think something that might heighten the impact is if we knew how the furniture feels about the previous occupants. Did they love them? Or did they simply enjoy their company? For example, in the line about the picture frame, the phrase "of those long gone" could be revised to include language that connotes affection for the people depicted in the photo. I love that image of the picture frame wrapping his "arms" around them.

Anyhow - this was really wonderful. Well done!