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  • Writer's pictureIndia Wittmershaus

The Table

I would like to tell you my story.

It is a story of passivity. A story of quietly observing in an ever-changing world.

To understand, I am a table.

I was created in a workspace outside of a large city. The workshop is part of a living house. An old house lonely on a hillside. My creator lives here alone with us, his creations. We are beautiful. Not just pretty, but beautiful. Each of us is unique. We are made of different materials, we have different sizes, and we take different shapes. We take on different functions in this world. But we are all beautiful.

I am a commissioned work. My future owner had certain ideas about how I should be and during my creation my creator whispered to me that I would become a splendid sample. He was to be proved right.

I was created from the wood of an American cherry. I am ruggedly kept, with no frills. But still, I have a quiet elegance. My tabletop is large, almost twice a meter tall. It is dark and my maker oiled it until it shone with a matte sheen. He looked at me and was visibly pleased. My owner came. He looked at me. He stroked my soft wood and declared me beautiful too.

Then I had to leave my birthplace. For a short time, I stayed with my siblings, while my creator devoted himself to other woods and pieces. But then he came back to me and gently wrapped me in fabric. I was loaded into a truck, leaving my maker behind. The drive was long, but eventually I arrived. My owner greeted me joyfully and several people carried me to my new place. I liked my new home.

I was the center of a large room. Freshly laid parquet covered the floor beneath me and the walls shone white. The room was kept simple with little decoration. A gray kitchenette, large windows overlooking a green courtyard, a metal staircase leading to the lower level. My constant company was a dark wood display case with subtle decorations. It stood against the far wall. It was quite a bit older than me and had already experienced a lot. Stories, people and experiences were reflected in the existence of this display case. I looked up to it. But still, I was the centerpiece of the room.

My owner took good care of me. He cared for me and made sure that I always remained clean and undamaged. He was the sole occupant of that room. In the morning, he would put a magazine on my tabletop and place his cup of tea there. Sometimes he would place papers on top of me. Occasionally he would spend a long period of time in front of a laptop which would get warm on my surface. When the heat of the device became an uncomfortable heat for me, my owner would put something between us to protect me. He was good to me.

He came and went. Sometimes with company, but mostly alone. At some point he came with a woman. She was loud and funny. They sat with me and talked, laughed and ate. She was not as careful with me as my owner was. Sometimes she would put things down on me rudely or forget coasters. But I liked her presence around me. She enlivened the room and felt it with her warmth.

With her came a little girl. She was also funny but different from the woman. Quiet and gentle, but childlike. My owner admonished her to be good to me and she was. Sometimes she was clumsy and spilled liquid on me, but she quickly cleaned it up. When she sat with me, she stroked my smooth wood. I enjoyed the feeling.

She was good to my owner too, they both were. He was happier with them. He laughed with the child, they had fun and chased each other around me.

It was a nice time. In the morning they ate breakfast together at my place. Then they left the room and were gone for hours. But at noon, the girl usually came back and then sat with me, fiddling with pen and paper. In the evening, my tabletop was loaded with plates, cutlery, glasses and various dishes. Then the three of them would sit with me and eat, laugh and talk for a long time. Later, everything was cleared from me and instead game boards were spread out on me and then they kept me company for hours. At some point the child went to bed and then my owner and the woman still sat with me until at some point they too left the room.

I don't know how long that time was. It felt long and I loved the room, the man, the woman and especially the child very much. But then everything changed. All of a sudden the woman and the child were gone and what was left was my owner and me. The room had not changed much. The walls had been freshly painted white in between. My companion, the display case, stood in its old place. I had suffered a few scratches and so had the parquet. But we were still beautiful. Only the room was emptier. I missed the woman and the child very much.

But the child came back. Not like before, not every day, but she came back. She came in the evening and sat with me and my owner. They ate and played together. Then the child left my room. But unlike before, she did not go to the room next to mine, but to the exit of the apartment.

Sometimes she would stay overnight. Then my owner and she would have breakfast together at my place. I liked that very much. It didn't turn out like before, but that wasn't bad. The main thing was that the girl came back. The woman also came back. Not as often as the girl, but sometimes the three of them would sit with me for dinner and play board games on my tabletop. Then later in the evening the woman and the girl would leave again. My owner would put things away from me and wipe my top clean.

I think much time passed after that. My room changed little. A photo of the child moved into the display case. My owner hung a small picture on the wall to my right. The girl came and went at irregular times. She grew up, became a teenager, a young woman. She became an adult. In the room where she had lived as a child, different people moved in and out one after the other. Some stayed only briefly, others longer.

I remember a young woman. She put a hot pot down on me. My owner got very angry about it. She did not live with us for long. A young man stayed with us for a long time. He was nice and clean. He always kept my countertop neat. I liked that about him. My owner brought friends to stay with me. Sometimes they played cards on me, sometimes they ate, and sometimes they just sat and talked for a long time in my company.

Now and then my owner also came to me with women. Some of them stayed longer or came more often, but none stayed as long as the woman with the child.

Eventually, however, a woman did come for longer. I liked her a lot. She had a joyful presence and cooked many dishes that made the air around me smell wonderful. She only ever stayed for a short time, for one or two dinners in a row, but she always came back. My owner and she would sit with me and talk and laugh for hours. Then the day came when the former little girl met the woman. The three of them spent a long evening at my place. The woman and the girl got along well and my owner was visibly pleased. The woman came more and more often and sometimes she stayed longer. If she was not there for a longer period, my owner was also absent. When he was there, the girl came to us. Sometimes there were only the two of them, but sometimes the new woman joined them.

Then came the day when the girl came to me alone. My owner had not been there for a long time. She walked past me down the stairs to the lower floor. At some point she came back up. She went into the room she had occupied so many years ago. And then she came to me. She sat down next to me and gently stroked my wood. She whispered to me that I was beautiful. She said goodbye to me and then she left my room.

Soon after, my owner and the woman arrived. For days they dragged boxes past me, they cleaned out the display case and wrapped it in fabrics. It was carried away. The picture was taken off the wall and the room was suddenly terribly empty. And then my owner also said goodbye to me. He explained that he was moving and where he was going there was no room that was big enough to accommodate me. He said he now didn’t have a room that would do me justice. And so, I would get a new owner. My old owner oiled my wood fresh and told me that he had always appreciated me very much. He told me that I was beautiful. He had found a new owner for me, someone he trusted and believed would appreciate me and treat me well.

I was wrapped in cloth again. So much time has passed and now I am again in a truck on my way to another room. A room so big that it can accommodate me. I hope it is a nice room. I will miss my owner and the girl very much. But my story is not over yet. This was just the beginning. For a long period of time, I was part of a family in which I was very much appreciated. I enjoyed this time, and I will always carry it in my wood. And now it is time to experience new things, to explore a new space, to meet new people. I just hope they take good care of me.

Written by India Wittmershaus.

Cover illustration by India Wittmershaus.


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