Monday, November 13, 2017

Imelda's Perfect Table

                                                      Imelda’s Perfect Table
                                           By Valerie L. Egar

         Imelda and Rihanna were sisters. They lived in a small cottage in a pretty village. They were not rich, but they weren’t poor either.  Rihanna worked as a carpenter and could build almost anything. Imelda had an eye for beautiful things and their little cottage was filled with lovely furniture Imelda bought.
One early morning, Imelda was on her way to the market when she passed a beautiful mansion on the wealthy side of town. The house was so large, their small cottage could have fit inside it with enough room left over for several of the neighbors’ cottages, too. Workmen hauled furniture out of the house into the yard— tall gilt mirrors, chairs upholstered in brocade, carved bureaus topped with pink marble. Imelda was curious. “Why are you taking the furniture out of the house?” she asked.
        “The Mistress of the house is re-decorating,” one said. “She's selling everything.”
            Imelda wandered among the rows of furniture, assessing each piece. The brocade chairs were lovely, but much as she liked them, she decided they were impractical. Their cat, Nero, would surely make short work of the delicate fabric.
           She didn’t fancy oversized portraits of people she didn’t know and didn’t favor pictures of battle scenes, so she passed by the paintings.
            Gilded furniture seemed too fancy for a simple country cottage, but a simple dining table, long and sturdy caught her eye. The wood shone as though it glowed from within. Imelda imagined relatives gathered for holiday meals, the table heaped with pies and cakes. She wanted that table!
            Imelda timidly asked the price and to her surprise, she had the exact amount in her purse. She ran home to ask Rihanna to come with the wagon.
            “Oh Imelda,” Rihanna said when she saw the table, “I don't think the table will fit in our house.”
            “But it must,” Imelda said. “It is made from beautiful wood and we will have many fine meals on it.”
            Rihanna shrugged and loaded the table onto the wagon. It hardly fit, but she managed to get it home.
            Narrow steps led to the front door of their small cottage. Rihanna shook her head. “Imelda, the table is wider than the steps into our house.  We cannot carry it up the steps.”
            “Surely you can build new ones.”
            Rihanna cut lumber and hammered, and soon the steps were wide enough. They carried it to the front door.
 “The table will not fit through the door,” Rihanna said. 
            “Take the door off and perhaps it will fit.”
            Rihanna removed the door, but the table still would not go through, no matter how many ways they turned it.
            “Make a new doorway, “ said Imelda. “We’ve been thinking about buying a new door anyway.”
  Rihanna enlarged the doorway and finally, the table was inside the dining room.
“Now we can eat,” said Rihanna.
“This room is much too small for such a fine table,” said Imelda. “If you made the dining room larger, the table would look much better.”
“Sister,” said Rihanna,“this table is too much work!”
“Nonsense,” said Imelda. “I’m the one who’s going to polish it! And, it's a beautiful table. A perfect table.”
With more banging and hammering, Rihanna enlarged the dining room. She looked forward to finally having a nice meal.
“Not yet,” said Imelda. “Those horrible beige walls do nothing for the tawny wood. We need to re-paint. I’ll help.”  She handed Rihanna a paintbrush.
Rihanna pulled a chair up to the table when she was finished. “Now, what’s for supper?” she said.
 “That carpet has to go,” said Imelda. “I thought it might be all right, but now, when I look at the walls and see how clean and nice they look, the carpet is dreadful.”
Rihanna rolled up the carpet and threw it out the window.

“Finally!” Imelda said. “Everything’s perfect.” She roasted a chicken with stuffing, green beans and mashed potatoes and made apple crisp for dessert. “Our first meal at the table!” she crowed, but Rihanna’s head was on the table. She was fast asleep.
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Copyright 2017 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced with our permission from the author.
Published November 5, 2017 Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).

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