green leafed tree surrounded by fog during daytime

“Which table do you like best? I think I like this one over here.” Darby Miller pointed across the showroom to a solid walnut wood table. “Don’t you think that is the one?” She looked back at her friend, who was looking at her phone. “Kace. I’m serious. Will you pay attention? We’re picking out my future dining room here. You’re supposed to help me.”

Kathleen Celia MacDougal was busy responding to followers under her online brand, KCMac. She always kept just enough awareness around her to be able to give generic responses to this sort of question — the sort that nobody ever really needed answered. “That one’s nice, I guess. It is kinda old-fashioned though, isn’t it? Weren’t you looking for something more modern?”

“Oh-Em-Gee! You are so right. What was I thinking? It has to be white, right? I mean — white is so clean and bright, and then it won’t dominate the room. I wonder what they have in white lacquer. Where did our person go anyway?”

“Sarah. Her name was Sarah,” Kathleen said.

“Right. Whatever. Where is she?”

“Let’s just go look over there where all the modern sets are.” Kathleen pointed across the room where low, blocky white leather sofas and sculpted plastic chairs met with layered stone and tiered glass coffee tables. She didn’t look up perceptibly.

“You’re a GENIUS!” Darby took off at a genteel gallop and Kathleen took a dispassionate pace behind her, dodging furniture and lighting without looking up from her phone. Her follower count had gone up by three since she entered the store. Not enough. She looked up to find a good background for a selfie. This is good. Mission style furniture is a great backdrop for a deep frown. Kathleen reached in her bag and pulled out her selfie stick, snapped it to its maximum length with a flick of her wrist, and clamped her rhinestone studded case in. She raised the phone high in the air, framed her face with a 1990s style dining set.

Pose. Snap. Repose. Snap. Pose again. Snap. Kathleen didn’t love any of them. She walked around to the opposite side of the next set, where the background would show the enormous showroom of expensive furnishings. She leaned on a table on the edge of the modern collection, but couldn’t get the perfect angle. She re-positioned herself and leaned back. The very-high heel of her Jimmy Choo shoe slipped on the slick concrete floor sending her backward and onto the table. At the last instant, her hand reached back and caught her. When it touched the table everything froze, including her.

Everything seemed to stop, but it not completely. She felt every step in a very slow progression of moments. It felt like quintillions of tiny fragments of time were ticking by and she could see the flicker of them. Then the scene in front of her eyes began to melt away, and for a moment she started to panic. Then just as slowly as the infinite stop action moments appeared a new feeling overcame her. She could see only darkness at first, and her body felt trapped in a tiny ball. True terror gripped her.

The ball broke away after a few painfully slow moments, and she was stretching upward. Time seemed to be picking up speed. The darkness began to give way to light streaming in on her from above. She could still see the showroom, but it was like a veiled background illusion. Most of her perception was reaching up and up.

Sunlight streamed in on her hands. She looked around at the black painted steel girders for a skylight, but found none. The sun came down her arms and streamed onto her face. Kathleen forgot that she had ever been scared and instead felt entirely calm and happy. The sunlight extended itself down on to her body, and she found herself naked in a giant field. The room of furnishings was gone.

She was perfect, and unconcerned about her nudity. It was right. The sensation felt like her soul was proudly showing itself to the world, connected to everything and tied to it. She shivered at the all-consuming feeling. The trees in the distance looked so tall and strong looking. I too will be tall and strong. Today I am here and that is good.

The sun flickered on and off, and Kathleen continued to grow taller and stronger by the moment. The wet soil kept her feet cool. She wriggled her toes down further and deeper into the cool moist soil. Her hair grew into great curls, extending around her like a great hat, shading her face. Her arms extended, stretched, and grew taller and taller. A few feet away she saw a younger sister growing. Kathleen couldn’t tell how, but she felt it was her sister. This other small naked creature.

The sun continued to flash over her head, outstretched arms and great parasol of hair. Kathleen realized that she had grown very large. She was strong. She stood tall and proud next to her sister. Still, something wasn’t right. She felt her sister recoil in pain, shudder and fall. Then her own legs were cut just above the ankles. Her great strength wasn’t enough. She fell hard on the ground—in the mud and the water. An arm broke and twisted around behind her. She groaned from the pain.

Sadness and fear overwhelmed Kathleen. She saw the flickering of the lights in a new room, but the sunshine no longer shone on her face. What happened? Where am I? What is happening? Voices could be heard.

“This one is perfect. Let’s keep it all together. It’ll match up beautifully for a single piece.”

A searing pain tore through her leg and up the left side of her body. Then another. Kathleen was sobbing in pain and horror. Again the searing pain ran through and up her body. Slowly she felt herself filleted into slices. She was helpless. The fog began to clear and the showroom became more solid until it returned to normal after a few seconds.
Kathleen saw the room again sharp and clear. Darby was rushing toward her. She was lying halfway across the table and barely able to catch her breath. Her phone lay on the ground, the selfie stick broken in two.

“Are you okay, Kace!?” Darby sounded frantic. I saw you start to fall. I can’t believe you caught yourself so fast. That was amazing. Really.”

“Um.” Kathleen didn’t know how to respond, but went for an automatically dismissive one. “I’m good. It’s all good.” She wasn’t. It wasn’t.

“Wow. That was something. You really freaked me out. I thought I would have to decide on what table to buy on my own.” Darby was serious.

Kathleen chose to ignore the insensitivity of her friend. “Dar, do you want a badass table?”

“You know I do.”

“You want one that won’t break the first time Tony sits on it talking to his buddies. It has to handle three kids beating on it with forks and spoons. It needs to be the table you wipe clear for make-up sex when he pisses you off. It must be able to hold the attention of the room and stand naked and shameless. It has to stay strong so it is still there when your grand kids are serving Thanksgiving dinner for you in fifty years. You need a table that can be a part of your family, and you can build your family around it.”

“Wow. Kace. I hadn’t thought about any of that.” Darby paused and looked around at the tables near her. “You’re right again. You are. I never thought about it, but I do want something that says family lives here—my family. I want it to be strong and beautiful and last forever.”

“Well then it’s this one. This is your table, Darby.” Kathleen rapped her knuckles on the table she had fallen on, and looked her friend in the eye with a somber face. “This one.”

“This one. Really? Hmm. I guess if you say so. What’s it made of anyway?”

“Oak.”

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