She loved her grandmother’s swirly chair, much more than she loved her grandmother. The sides were sweeping swathes of wicker that curled wonderfully and ended in what she thought were handles. She had a great longing to climb onto the seat and imagined riding the chair wildly all around the room. But this wasn’t allowed. Her grandmother filled it completely and it had become more of a throne over the years.
“Zis chair came all the way from Taubenberg, Lillian. My own mother nursed me in it and I nursed your father in it. It was designed by Michael Thonet and I’m told that it is worth money but that doesn’t matter” explained Hubertina. “What matters are the stories it holds.”
“Tell me its stories Grandma?” she asked.
Her father walked in, handsome, brooding and serious. She didn’t move.
“Lillian is asking about my chair Christopher”
“That old thing, I’ve told you mother you should sell it. Why do old people cling to everything old?” said her father.
“Because they are familiar, which makes them predictable. Young people think that if they have enough information and enough money then can control everything. But when you get older you will realise that you there is barely anything you can control.”
“I hope you’re not talking about the war AGAIN. It was decades ago mother.
You have been in England for longer than you were in Germany now. Let it go. Along with that chair.”
She left her father and grandmother and went into the garden. She slipped her flip flops off and combed the grass with her toes. It was warm and she lay down in the sunshine. Rolling onto her tummy she hoisted herself up on her elbows and examined the fronds of camomile and sorrel leaves which grew through the lawn. A plump furry bee landed on a white clover near her hand and she noticed two egg yolk coloured balls on each side of its body. The vibrating buzz was strangely comforting but was interrupted by the crunch of gravel.
Lillian looked up and saw her grandmother stomping across the drive followed by her father. She watched them head into Aunt Astrid’s cottage and close the door behind them. Her heart began to beat faster. She scurried up and headed in through the French windows. And there it was, her grandmother Hubertina’s chair. The curved lines were burnished after years of being stroked and polished except for the tops of the arms where the oils had been rubbed too often. This was her chance. Lillian clambered up. She rested her
hands on the arms and closed her eyes. Her legs were too little to use for motion so she pushed as hard as she could with her back to set the chair rocking. The quiet creaks were like a lullaby to Lillian. She felt the chair begin sliding across the Persian rug. She felt a little jolt as it hopped over the lip of the French doors and onto the lawn. The chair moved faster as it began to glide down the slope towards the lake. A languid smile stole across Lillian’s face with the swish of the water as the chair bobbed, then floated gently. She felt a tickle on her knee. She peeped and there was the most beautiful dragon fly. She gently offered her finger and it climbed up so she could bring it closer to her face. The wings gleamed with every colour of the rainbow and its body shone metallic emerald.
Lillian watched the minute robotic motion of the compound eyes and felt the tiny taps of its filigree legs on her skin.
“Lillian! What are you doing??” shouted Grandma Hubertina.
Lillian scrambled down onto the Persian rug, straightened her back and sat smartly on her bottom.
“I was just listening to the stories of Grandma Hubertina’s chair” she explained.