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Fiction Happy Historical Fiction

Trying to furnish a house after getting married was a pain! And my new husband was No help at all! He just said go with whatever you want, I don’t care. I Don’t Care!! What?! What if I wanted to decorate the house in all cat merchandise, knowing that he didn’t like cats? Men! I called my friend, Tami for a shopping and lunch date. She could help me sort my thoughts. We met later that day; we had just finished our lunch when I picked her brain. She did know a lot about me, considering we had been best friends for 10 years. “Okay, why are you having a problem with inspiration?” Tami asked. “Every friend of ours that bought a new house, you basically decorated.” “I know!” I countered. “But this is my Victorian cottage, and I want vintage items. I want cool stuff from the 1950’s, like a silver laminate oval table with red vinyl chairs. I want quilts draping over my Victorian couch.” “Wow, you know exactly what you want, we just need to hit the antique mall,” said Tami. “And your mom’s antique barn.” “Oh no! She has too much crap! It’s not organized, and every piece has its own story. We would be lost in there for days!” I commented. But she would be hurt if I didn’t call her when she found out what I was shopping for. So, we headed over to the pit of broken dreams and despair as I like to call it.


We arrived at my mom’s house, and walked in the back door. She was sitting there drinking what had to be her 4th cup of coffee, and looking through a design magazine. “Hi mom”. I knew she would be happy, but when she saw us, it was like looking at a man that was a bacon lover at a pig farm! “Oh my gracious! Visiting me, and me still in my bathrobe. You little minx,” mom said. “It’s alright, I’ve seen you in it before. Mom, I am decorating my house and need to look through your inventory of antiques. My theme is retro anything. Do you think you can help?” It was like we told her she had won the lottery. She jumped up, got all excited, and said she had to go throw some clothes on, and that she would meet us out there. We took the key off the hook and headed for the back yard.


The huge red barn glimmered in the sunlight. It was about 20 feet tall, with dark green shutters. On the top towards the roof were huge black letters reading Mimi’s Antiques, and her phone number. She used to operate as a business, but five years ago my dad died, and with him her desire to keep running the place. Occasionally, someone will call and request an item but only about once or twice a year. The doors were white sliding doors with silver handles and there was a padlock holding them closed. I opened the door, and we flipped on the light. There were shelves on every inch of wall space, filled with antique dishes, knick knacks, silverware, etc. My mom walked in, and asked me what I was looking for. I told her I basically wanted to furnish my house. I asked her if grandma’s kitchen table was still here, and she said it was and it was mine. We shopped for what seemed like hours, it probably was hours I was so captivated.


I went over to my mom, kissed her on the cheek, and asked her if she had any lamps. She directed me over to the lamp section. I looked for a minute, and then I spotted it. The holy grail of lamps. It was a pale robin’s egg blue, except a tad darker. There were two globes, separated by a brass fitting. There was a gold dragon on each globe. “Mom, omg, this is gorgeous! Where did it come from?” “Oh, that one. Well, your grandma, Ruth got it from her mama, Martha who got it from her mom after her mom died. Her mom had told her that it was an old oil lamp used in the pre-civil war era, about 1850. It has a story.” Of course it did, I knew we were done shopping for the day. I told her I definitely wanted it, and we headed to her office to enjoy a cold soda, she had an old Coca Cola cooler stocked with bottles. I grabbed an orange soda, and we sat on her couch.


“It was around 1852 when your great great grandma Mary bought this lamp from a traveling salesman. He told her it was worth $20, but he would sell it to her for $10. She told him she would give him $4, and it's all she had. The deal settled, she took her lamp inside where she used it daily, loved it, and it was a fine oil lamp. It always rested on her hallway table, to lead the way into the house. She loved dragons, and that’s why she wanted it. Fast forward to 1864, the civil war hit South Carolina hard. She loved this lamp so much that she buried it in the back field, and made a gravestone marker so anyone coming across it would think someone died. By April, the war ended, and their house bore the signs of it. But they were determined to rebuild, so when Mary thought it was safe, she went to her makeshift grave of her beloved oil lamp, dug it up, cleaned it and set it back on the table. She died in 1910, and left everything to her daughter, Martha.


By that time electricity had become commonplace, so she bought some electric lamps out of a catalog. She couldn’t bear to get rid of the dragon lamp and stored it in the attic. She had a son and a daughter, and lived a very happy life. Her daughter, Ruth, loved to poke around in the attic looking at all the wonderful items. One day she was up there, and spotted the old lamp in the corner. She brought it downstairs, and said, “Oh mama, can I use this in my room? It’s so beautiful, please.” Her mom said yes, and that’s how Ruth got it. Ruth got married, and took her lamp with her to Charleston. During the unrest of racial wars in the 1960’s, it almost got destroyed, when a man threw a huge rock through the entry way window. Luckily, it survived. When she had me, she told me stories almost from the womb about all our family, and especially the story of the lamp. So, you are getting a piece with tales as old as time.” By this time, she was out of breath, and I got her a drink.


“Mom, I will cherish it always, and keep it’s history in my heart, and if ever I have a child, I will pass it down to her, or him.” I told her. She smiled at that, and Tami and I loaded up the treasures we could fit in the car, and promised to bring back a truck to get everything else. Later that day, I cleaned off the lamp and placed it on my hallway table by the door, and when I paused to look at it before going upstairs, it almost seemed happy.

July 13, 2022 17:35

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2 comments

Jennie B
15:57 Jul 17, 2022

Hi Debra, I enjoyed reading your story. I know we have to keep it short but I think this would be a great longer story if you were able to develop the stories around each relative.

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Debra Koffski
19:28 Jul 17, 2022

Thank-you. That means so much!

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