My Old Sofa

By Eric Wadsworth
November 6, 2004
(revised slightly on September 19, 2005)

This story might seem strange, but don't be too hasty to judge me by it. These are the facts, just as they happened. Don't blame me if you don't believe it.

A little more than three years ago I got a transfer at work, and we had to move to an Eastern state for a while. We decided to sell most of our big stuff, and fill a rented apartment with used furniture. We planned on buying a house and stocking it with new furniture once we returned to the West. Our new furniture would all be color-coordinated. This was my wife's idea, and as usual, it was a good one, so that's what we did.

When we got there we went to some garage sales and bought a table, some chairs, and a couple of annoying dressers. The kind that the drawers are always falling out of. Lots of crumbling particle-board. We did get one fairly nice old sofa with dark green fabric. Deep cushions you could really sink into, kind of sewn on to it. The thing was so big that we couldn't get it through the front door. We had to take it around back to bring it through the sliding glass door. We set this up across from the TV.

Now, the first time it happened I didn't think twice. Seemed very normal. Only in light of later events did I recall the coin.

One day we couldn't find the TV remote. Stuff like that usually winds up in the sofa somewhere, so I went on a quest to find it. The main cushions didn't come off, but you could stick your hands in the cracks behind the cushions and feel around. It went really far back.

I pulled out some other junk before I found the remote. There was this really nasty old necktie I'd never seen before. Must have belonged to the former owner. One place, though, in the corner by the left arm, I discovered that I could stretch my arm way into the thing, and it kinda turned up in the back, making a pocket.

When I reached back in there something poked my finger. I hollered and yanked my arm out. I had found a silver dollar. Not real silver, just a LIBERTY dollar coin. This one was 1972. These things aren't worth anything, but they are fun to do some magic tricks with. With a band-aid on my finger I wasn't about to go poking my hand back in there again.

My kids wanted to play with the coin, and so I showed them some tricks. I dug in my sock drawer and found another silver dollar, also 1972, so we had two of them. We had fun rolling them across the kitchen floor. After a while, I put one of them back, and let the kids keep playing with the other. I don't know if it was the one from the sofa or mine, they looked the same.

The next day we picked up the living room because we were expecting company. I asked my wife if she'd seen that silver dollar. She said to ask the kids, but they said they had lost it. In the sofa, they thought. I searched and searched but couldn't find it. I even carefully checked in that deep left-side pocket. Not likely it could make it back in that far, anyway.

A couple of months later, I don't know how many, because I'm awful at keeping track of time like that, we lost the TV remote again. I checked the sofa, of course, and the deep pocket at the left side. This time when I stuck my hand in there, it felt suddenly wet. Thoughts of half-eaten ham sandwiches crossed my mind (you know what I mean if you have kids), and as I was pulling my hand out, I picked something up. This time it was my wife's earring.

It turned out that my hand wasn't wet at all. It was like I had touched something that was cold in there, so it felt wet.

The odd thing was, she hadn't lost an earring. When I showed it to her and she looked at me funny, dug in her drawer, and pulled out a set of earrings that matched the one I was holding. They weren't anything fancy or expensive, just regular earrings, probably from Target or something.

"Well, I guess you've got a spare," I said, and tossed it up onto a shelf in the kitchen. The remote turned out to be in the kids' bathroom. I don't know why.

A week later my wife was wearing that same set of her earrings. She lost one while sitting on the sofa, and couldn't find it. I felt around in the cushions and couldn't find it either, even in the deep left pocket. Well, at least we had a spare, I pointed out. We laughed a little but it seemed strange to both of us at the time. I found the other earring on the shelf where I had put it.

The last thing was car keys. We were leaving to move back west in a few days and I couldn't find them. I'd been wearing shorts earlier, and they have shallow pockets, so I figured they must have been eaten by the sofa. This time when I checked that mysterious deep left pocket, my hand went cold, really cold.

When my wife got home the sofa was in the back yard, and I was grumpy. I complained about there not being enough milk in the fridge and yelled at the kids for some silly reason.

"What's wrong, honey? And why is the sofa outside? The garage sale isn't until tomorrow, won't it get ruined if it rains?"

"It's not going to rain. I just didn't want it in here anymore. I lost my keys, and they're not in the sofa."

"Oh I'm sorry, I have your keys here in my purse."

"Thanks." I was still grumpy. My wife knew me well enough not to press me when I'm in that kind of mood.

The next day I sold the sofa to the first person who looked at it, for ten dollars.

When we got back West we bought a house and filled it with brand new furniture, straight from the warehouse store. My wife thought it was odd how my tastes had changed. No soft comfy sofas for me.

"Futons," I said, "are really handy. They even make into a bed!" She wasn't entirely convinced, but we bought futons instead of a sofa. "Not quite as soft but you can't lose stuff under the cushions," I said. "And they are easier to clean," I added lamely. She just looked at me.

I can't bring myself to tell her the real reason. It's also the reason I don't sit on couches, sofas, or even soft cushiony easy-chairs anymore. I'll sit on the floor or on a regular chair. I don't even tell it to myself, I've been trying to forget it.

My therapist says I need to get something out of my system, so that's why I'm writing this. Hopefully it will do the job.

You see, that last time I had reached into that deep, deep, cold pocket behind the cushion, I had felt something that shouldn't have been there at all. It was another hand, and it was also searching for something.