She felt the wood of the table and seemed to be entranced by the patterns in the grain. Her eyes followed her hand, tracing the swirls that spoke of the tree’s life. When her fingers found a knot that sat dark and ominous under the clearcoat she sucked in a quick breath. She held her fingers over it, as if it were a magnet or a tiny black hole that sucked her in and held her fingers fast.
She looked over at me with a look of concern. “Do you know what would have caused this knot to form in the tree this was made from?” I honestly had no idea, and I told her so. She returned her gaze to the table and ran her fingers over the knot again.
“It’s a bit of a shame,” she said, still looking at the table. “To survive years in the forest- frosts, fires, parasites, everything, just to get cut down and made into a table. It’s a beautiful table, but I would imagine the tree was much more beautiful. This table is only a reflection, no a shadow of that beauty.”
I looked over at her, at a loss of what to reply. “I guess.” I stammered out “It could be worse. I guess seeing the materials you were made of become something beautiful is far from the worst fate. Who knows, the tree could have fallen down naturally and was so beautiful someone hauled it out of the forest and carved the table. Or shit, it could have been a tree on an industrial plantation that was too knotty to be made into whatever the plantation was growing them for. Fuck it could have been grown on a plantation that grew knotty trees to be cut down and made into bougie, overpriced furniture.”
“Oh god I hope not, that’s far too jaded a thought for me to entertain, as possible as it might be.”
I nodded my head in agreement.
“I guess there’s really no way to know. I doubt the store knew, I don’t think tables come with descriptions of their provenance.”
“If they did they’d probably be half bullshit anyway. Something like this was hewn from a happy tree that swayed majestically in the warm, gentle summer breeze.”
“Fuck it would probably end up being some bullshit marketing scheme, somehting to charge a premium. Fuck that.”
“I think,” she paused, “I think I’ll just make up a plausible story and pretend it’s real. Nothing too wild, no Bob Ross-esque happy trees, but just a slightly extraordinary story. A tree that survived longer than the others in its grove because it was too knotty to be cut down. Generations sat and enjoyed its pleasant shade. A storm came, a true tempest, fuck a full blown tornado, and despite the tree’s hours of valiant struggle, fighting till the very end, it was felled by the biblical winds. The locals, heartbroken to lose the tree but grateful for the shade and comfort it provided, carved this table to keep the tree around and remember the halcyon days spent in its leafy grotto.”
“Wow. That’s incredible.”
“You like it, it seems fitting, a bit grandiose, but fitting.”
“One,” I paused, “Small problem.”
“I bought that table at Ikea. And I’m pretty sure it’s fake; the top is just vinyl made to look like wood.”