I actually felt sorry for the sofa. The sofa we’d bought together for our first, and last, home. I felt like we’d failed it. Promised it that it would have the honour of accommodating us throughout our shared lives. It would support us as we watched TV, ate dinner, made love – and, in a few years, might acquire the hairs of a cat or a dog, or have some kids jump around on it.

But all that’s no longer happening. Not since she left.

This was an important sofa. It was supposed to last us our lifetimes. That’s the promise we made it, and it deserved such a commitment – it was a decent piece of craftsmanship. Thick, bouncy cushions. Green felt covers with faux-Chesterfield dimples. A solid oak frame, varnished.

Apparently its previous owners were an old married couple who’d “had it for donkeys’ years”. So I guess we’d failed them as well.

The sofa is coming with me to my new apartment. I feel guilty as my mother and I have to pull it apart to fit it in the back of our rented Transit van. I tell her not to throw its cushions in with everything else, but to place them carefully on top of each other. The sofa’s frame inevitably takes a few knocks on the journey, and then a few more as we carry it up the stairs when we get there.

But my new apartment is pretty well lit. From its new place by the French windows, the sofa glows in the sunlight like never before. It looks so much more radiant. I’m convinced it’s happier here.

When I sit on it now, I think: whatever life throws at us, we’ll go on together. And, I imagine, it looks back up at me, rolls its eyes, and thinks: oh, and that’s a promise, is it?


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