This is another Woman’s World reject. I’m building up quite the portfolio…
“That’s so sweet,” I said. “I’ll take it.”
“I wanted it to find a good home,” the man said. “Somewhere it’ll be appreciated and loved.” He smiled, a wistful lifting of the corners of his lips. Someone hollered a question across the yard. “I’m Brian, by the way. I’ll see you at the cash box when you’re ready.” He nodded at a card table at the end of the driveway and hurried to take care of his other garage sale customers.
I sat in a maple rocking chair. He’d told me the most beautiful story about how his grandmother rocked his dad in it and then his mom rocked him. He had hoped his wife would cuddle their children in it someday. “But it wasn’t mean to be,” he’d said.
I didn’t know quite what that meant. Did his wife die? Maybe they couldn’t have kids? Oh well, I shrugged.
I’d asked if he knew the history of the chair and he seemed fine with telling me the story.
And then I had to have it. I tried to pretend I was indifferent to see if he would come down on the price. He wouldn’t. I couldn’t blame him at all. If it were in my family, I’d never let it go.
I gave up haggling just when he was called away. I sat for another moment in the chair, rocking and thinking and looking around.
The sale was arranged on the lawn and driveway of a cute bungalow on a corner lot. Furniture and small appliances shared the space with tables full of dishes and knick-knacks.
I spend most of my Saturday mornings driving around to sales. I love old furniture. The dull glow of wood rubbed by years of elbows and hands makes my heart swell as I think about all the people who have touched and been touched by the tables and chairs. And I look for books to add to my classroom. There are a lot of classics out there, molding in cardboard boxes and waiting for a new reader.
A little round stand caught my eye across the yard and I made my way over to it. Golden oak with a shelf under it, it was perfect for the reading corner of my classroom where I’d already decided the rocker would go.
I turned around to find the seller again and ask him how much when I noticed my rocking chair being carried away.
“Hey,” I called, running to catch up with it. “That’s mine.”
A man with broad shoulders in a denim shirt turned around. “No, it’s not,” he said. “There’s no ‘sold’ sign on it. And you were no where near it.” He turned away again and headed toward the check out area.
“I was just looking at something else.” I hurried to get in front of him. “It’s mine, I love it. And I agreed on a price with the seller.”
“Sorry to hear that.” His eyes were the same shade as his shirt and they crinkled as he squinted against the sun. “But it’s perfect for what I need.”
“What’s that?” I asked suspiciously. He didn’t look like the kind of guy who cared about a chair’s history.
“The spindles on the arms here.” He hefted the chair. “They’re gonna be accents on the shelves of a bookcase.”
“You’re going to cannibalize my new rocking chair?” Heat rushed to my face.
“No.” He looked at me a little strangely. “I’m going to take this old chair apart and use it another way.”
“I can’t let you do that.” I grasped the chair by the rockers and tried to pull it away from him.
“Hey!” He tugged back, wrenching it out of my hands. “Are you crazy?”
“I’m not letting you destroy my chair.”
“You need to get a grip. It’s just an old rocker. I can use it to make something new.” He gestured at the sale around us. “There’s a set of six dining chairs. Go rescue them.”
“I want this chair.” There was no way I was going to let him win.
“What’s the big deal?” He looked really curious and I paused, not sure how to explain it.
“I know the history of this chair,” I said. “The mothers and babies it’s rocked. The stories that have been read in it. And now his children will never get to fall asleep in it. I have to have it!” My voice rose and I looked around to see if anyone noticed.
He chuckled and shook his head. “What’s your name?”
“Julie,” I said. “Why?”
“Brian!” he called. The man who told me about the chair was on the other side of the yard with his back to us. He turned around and flushed when he saw us with the chair.
He approached slowly. “Hi, Tucker. Is there a problem? No? Okay, well-” He started to walk away when my nemesis spoke up.
“Just a second. What did you tell Julie here?”
“Hmmm? Oh, nothing really, just…” his voice trailed off and he looked at the house.
“You fed her a line about being a baby rocked in this chair, didn’t you?”
“What’s going on?” I asked. Had I been made a fool of?
“Brian bought this chair at a flea market last week,” Tucker said. “And his wife – that’s her helping that man try out the treadmill – she wanted something bigger for the bay window in the living room. And I know because she’s my sister.”
“Really?” I looked at Brian. “Why would you make up such a story?”
“I needed to get rid of it. And you wanted a romantic history.” He grinned apologetically. “I never actually said I was rocked in it.”
“What about, ‘it wasn’t meant to be’?”
He shrugged. “Kate didn’t like it and you did.”
“Here.” Tucker sighed and set the chair in front of me.
“Oh, just take it before I change my mind.” He ran a hand over the curved back. “It would have made a great bookcase though.”
“I could see it as a bookcase.” I almost looked behind me to see if someone else said that.
“What about mothers rocking their babies and all that?” He looked into my eyes and my heart pounded.
“Rocking is fine, but what I really need is a place to store books.”
“I happen to have a beautiful red maple unit that just needs some finishing touches. Can I show it to you?”
“Only if it has a romantic history,” I said.
He smiled. “If it doesn’t now, it will soon.”