Richard found himself talking to the furniture.
“Ahhh” he sighed settling into his favourite chair “lets have a nice sit down shall we?” The question lay down on the floral rug and withered away unanswered.
“What’s that all about, eh?” he grumbled to the doormat that had curled up snuggly against the front door, jamming it when he opened it for the milk, as he picked up his post. “What’s that about?”
“Right then, let’s get the kettle on” he chirped conversationally to the kettle which blushed until steam came out of its ears and boiled despite being watched. “Lovely cuppa” he said in thanks, and the kettle whistled shyly to herself until she was calm again.
“Come along then” he grumbled as he grappled with the lawnmower, “Come along, come along then. That’s a good girl”.
Richard didn’t mind talking to most of the furniture, he had done it most days of his long eighty-six years. He had talked to the furniture as it had slunk into corners and nested in cupboards when they had moved in forty-odd years ago. He didn’t notice he did it any more.
Richard didn’t mind talking to the furniture except a lamp. A walnut carved lamp with a broad shouldered torso that shone too brightly the last time it had been on. He must remember to replace the bulb. He never remembers to replace the bulb. He doesn’t want to replace the bulb.
What he minds is jolting awake in the middle of the night with “Mary!” on his lips. The slam of his hand into the sheets, the way his hands deform into claws, that rake the unexpected negative space, despite the arthritis. The shot of pain through his knuckles reminds him – a sharp reminder, like he used to get at school for sticking his plushly wet chewing gum under his desk. No! No, it said. No.
Yet most nights he woke still, turning in fright and being faced with the blank shade of the lamp. He’d repeat himself; “Mary..” and let his head wilt down to the pillow once more.