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The Sofa: A Short Story

Updated: Apr 16

Brown leather sofa with unhung pictures on the floor

One day you buy a sofa. It’s beautiful: you think it’s modern, but remains classic. Everything about it is perfect. It suits you completely: it’s comfortable but sophisticated, and fits the space perfectly. You’re so happy when you come home; you feel so relaxed when you get in and slouch on your beautiful sofa.

The weeks pass, and the sofa is a real source of comfort as life wears on. Seasons change and you don’t succeed at the job you thought you wanted. It’s a real setback. Life feels really hard. One day things get too much and in your frustration you give the sofa a good kick. You feel bad instantly, terrible in fact, and you apologise internally. ‘Sofa I’m so sorry, I promise I won’t do it again. I’m just having a bad time right now.’

The years go by, and unfortunately you kick the sofa a few more times. You end up in some dead end jobs whilst others are seemingly climbing the ladder, and this brings out deep insecurities in you. Stains have bloomed on the sofa, here and there. It is beginning to look a little grubby. The dents from the kickings are beginning to show. You feel a bit embarrassed of the sofa when company comes over, particularly when it’s someone you need to impress. You notice a few comments about the sofa here and there. They make you uncomfortable, but secretly you agree, which makes things feel worse.

Without realising, you stopped looking forward to coming home to your sofa. It looks a bit dusty and isn’t quite as comfortable as it used to be. You begin to wonder if there’s something better out there for you, but you know there’s probably not. All the same, the feeling of dustiness has settled on you. Even though it was you who inflicted the dents on the sofa, they’re just so depressing. Looking at the sofa reminds you of your weaknesses, your flaws. Who kicks a sofa for goodness sake? Shouldn’t you have grown out of that by now?

Things get pretty bad after a party; a big wine spill seems a step too far. You get really close to driving the sofa to the dump; the sight of it is just too much to bear. You tell yourself you'd be able to manage for a bit until you can get your act together to find a new one.

But then you remember how happy the sofa made you when you first got it. You remember your commitment to sustainability, the deep belief that nothing, not even objects, should be discarded. Make do and mend, persevere, and it will be ok, you tell yourself. Repairs are part of life’s process.

You do a quick overview of some of the problems and quickly realise you’re out of your depth. You need some help, someone who’s really good at DIY and knows a bit about upholstery. It takes a while to find someone you trust, but boy when you find them do they give you good advice. Try this glue, it’s made for this purpose. How about restuffing the cushions? To keep them nice you are going to have to plump them regularly. What do you think about reupholstering the fabric? It might breathe a bit of new life into your old sofa. 

Some of the issues you decide aren’t too much of a problem after all, but others you tackle with vigour. And so, once more, you feel happy coming home to your sofa, just like you used to. This version of the sofa has moved with the times, you tell yourself. It meets your needs as you are now. Things feel so much better again.

But another storm hits, and this time it’s a big one. Work is high pressure, but stuff with family has gotten really bad. Really overwhelming. Really just too much. It’s the worst it’s ever been. And old habits die hard. The sofa gets kicked quite a lot this time. Really quite a lot.

You think, it’ll be ok. We’ve gone through tough times before, me and this sofa. I’ve kicked it before and it’s still here. It’s still going. 

But the structure of the sofa isn’t as sound as it used to be. Small cracks you thought weren’t that much of a problem before have deepened and lengthened. The glue has held in some places but not in all of them.

The worst of the family stuff dies down and you stop and reassess. You reason with yourself. All that effort to restore the sofa and it didn’t last long. Was it worth it? You think to yourself, if the glue didn’t work last time, why would it work this time, on bigger cracks? But you also remember all your happy memories on the sofa, the highs, the lows, the peaceful moments, the restless ones. The joyous moments and the angry ones.

This sofa has seen you through a huge part of your life and, battered and broken though it may be, it has always been there for you. And even though you have definitely kicked it (quite a lot now) those kicks aren’t representative of how you feel about it. When you look closely, you have both damaged and repaired your good old sofa.

You say to yourself, if I talk to my advisor again, would the new techniques work? Doubt settles in your heart. You lose faith and say, I’m off to bed. I can’t look at you any more. I’ll look at you again in the morning. Maybe if I’m less tired and I have a fuller stomach, the answer will come to me. 

So you go to bed and fall into a deep sleep. In the morning you have a hearty breakfast and go over and look at the sofa. But it’s still a really mixed bag. If anything, you can see the repairs and the damage more clearly. No answer presents itself to you.

You talk to other people about their furniture and you realise it’s a really personal choice. Some people tell you a new sofa would do you good. There’s nothing like a spring clean to spruce up your place. Treat yourself, you deserve something new and nice. You’ve put up with this drab and outdated sofa longer than most.

Other people are really into DIY and believe anything is possible. You’ve already learned some new skills, why not learn some more? Maybe you’ll need more complex equipment this time, but before you know it, it will be as good as new! Better even, because you will have learned loads of new skills. Soon, you’ll be capable of fixing anything!

Yet more of your friends tell you to go back to bed. It’s been a really tough time recently. One sleep and a nice breakfast isn’t going to do the trick. Don’t make any lasting decisions now, when you’re tired and can’t think straight and life has worn you down. You can take the sofa to the dump or learn how to fix it another day. There’s no need to light it up in one last blaze of glory. Just rest for now.

You heed this last bit of advice because it rings true. You don’t know which camp you fall into anyway. The DIY lot sound a bit exhausting and the redecorators a bit flippant. Tiredness is probably making you a bit more negative about your dutiful old sofa anyway. So you climb back into bed.

As you lie there, you realise that maybe actually, there’s nothing wrong with the sofa. You’re the one that kicked it after all. All the sofa did was stay the same and stay with you. The world around it changed - the trends for velvet, and new jazzy stripes, and the retro silhouettes that have come back into fashion. 

You had the power to look after the sofa and treasure it, and the power to damage it. Little things, every day habits have slowly worn your beloved sofa down, and you’re the one that did it. Big choices and small, have slowly accumulated, and are showing in material signs of wear and tear. Does it deserve to be relegated to the dump because of decisions you made? 

Then again, had you tucked it away somewhere safe and never used it, it might not have any of those stains or dents, but you also wouldn't have had those wonderful, contented memories. You might as well have gotten rid of it straight away because you didn't really use it.

You go downstairs, and lie on your lovely little battered sofa. Hugging the pillows, you look around yourself in the gathering twilight, as dusk settles in.

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