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    Familiar Room

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by Lorin Killoy
    The room was familiar to the both of them. The wall paneling was the typical wood grain found in half of a hundred-thousand homes across the country, but the one wall that formerly displayed the portraits of their twelve aunts and uncles now was almost completely covered by a tall entertainment center that contained some of the latest in home audio/visual equipment. Instead of a couch being along that wall, it was now against the shorter side wall. The sofa was a huge blue and well-stuffed thing with reclining ends that their mother said was “too big”, but her daughter, who purchased the couch, simply replied, “it fits.”
    In front of the large picture window that faced out the front of the house, and was opposite the entertainment center, was the recliner their Grandfather had favored. Although it was yellow and the woman who was currently sitting in it–and who currently owned it along with the rest of the house–preferred cool colors, she vowed she would have it repaired and recovered before she would ever throw it away. The other pieces of furniture–in contrast to the rest of the room–were unfamiliar to the woman’s Brother. He was seated in the chunky wooden block rocking chair located between the entertainment center and the area designated as the dining room. The rocker, the matching straight chair in front of the window, and the end table between the straight chair and the recliner were hand-me-downs from the woman’s in-laws. When her husband moved into his first apartment many years before, his parents gave him the large furniture along with a matching couch that since had been replaced by the huge blue thing.
    Brother and Sister sat and talked in that familiar room, so different now that she was living there instead of their Grandparents. Grandpa died many years ago, and last year Grandma decided to move into an apartment. When granddaughter and husband decided to purchase the house, the whole family was happy and relieved that Grandma wouldn’t have to go through the stress of putting the house on the market. Even before the sale was final, the new homeowners started changing the place to make the home theirs: they painted the yellow walls in all the rooms on the main floor making the dining room gray and the kitchen white. From the homespun country look, the woman modernized the kitchen, but decorated the room with cow paraphernalia. After all, they live in Wisconsin. The master bedroom on the main floor was also painted gray and converted into a computer room for the woman’s technophile husband.
    The Brother commented on and complimented these changes during the conversation. He especially admired the entertainment center with its equipment and multitude of video and audio cassettes, laserdiscs, and CDs.
    Grandpa and Grandma never owned such frivolous things. They were married in 1938, the height of the Great Depression, and had twelve children in the first fifteen years of their marriage (Catholic). The older ones were married and having kids of their own before the younger ones were even out of school. Brother and Sister were part of the third generation and remembered many good times playing with their mass of cousins, trying their skill in the family’s annual New Year’s Eve euchre tournament, or just visiting with their Grandparents–all in this room.
    Now, Brother and Sister were both grown up and married. He had a daughter, and his wife was expecting their second child in less than two months. The Sister was the youngest in their part of the family, and she and her husband had no children of their own yet–save two adorable cats who were now wrestling with each other on the floor. She still lived in their hometown, after all, she had bought their Grandparents’ house; but he had moved upstate to his wife’s hometown. Brother and Sister saw each other rarely, holidays mainly, so they treasured these infrequent visits.
    Earlier in this evening’s visit was a party. Not a celebration per se, but the kind of party where the guests buy things. He had recently started selling handy items to help around the kitchen while cooking, and tonight she hosted the first party he conducted by himself–without his director directing him. She thought it would be a good idea if his first party was with family; it would help him to relax so he could show off the items to the best of his ability. They both had a natural talent for public speaking, but he was the more humorous of the two, a natural “ham”; selling things would be easy for him. As proof, tonight’s party was a great success. They sold many products, and she earned several points to gain her free products (another reason for hosting such a party).
    Now in a familiar room, they toasted their success over sodas as they talked of their families, events of their lives, hobbies each pursued. Some hobbies, like writing and candlemaking, they shared in common. She gave him a copy of the candlemaking book she used, as well as an ice pick to drill holes for wicks. He asked her about her writing; a script she had written was currently under consideration by an agent. Then he challenged her, “How would you write this scene?”
    She thought for just a moment then started her story with, “The room was familiar to the both of them...”