Mia unlocked the front door and stepped onto the faded burlap welcome mat. She flipped a light switch on the wall, illuminating a bright painting of sunflowers and a brass coat rack. “Come in. Make yourselves at home,” she told David, Bern, and Rianne. By instinct, Mia followed the hardwood floor left then right through the apartment’s living room, kitchen, and dining room, turning on more lights as she went.
Rianne followed Mia into the kitchen. David and Bern lingered in the living room.
The framed art adorning the walls grabbed David’s attention. All of them were drawings made with pencil, charcoal, and ink. Several depicted trees, flowers, and animals. One was a collage featuring a faceless figure in various poses. Another was a still life of glass bottles and a fruit bowl. The most unique piece was a second still life. This one featured a stack of old books, a fan of playing cards, and polyhedral dice spilling out of a bag. David noticed that all of these drawings bore Mia’s signature. She was certainly talented.
Bern was surprised by the old, mismatched furniture. A black leather couch sat underneath a large picture window. Two pink upholstered chairs sat near it, forming a crescent around a striped rug and an oblong coffee table. A cherry wardrobe stood against the back wall. What shocked Bern was how well some of this furniture would fit in his neighborhood.
“Would you like something to drink?” Mia asked. “We’ve got water, milk, juice, soda…”
“I’ll have water,” David answered, not taking his eyes off the drawings.
“Bern, do you want water too?” Rianne asked. She noticed her brother standing beside one of the pink upholstered chairs, frozen. “Bernie?”
He finally said, “Sorry, just… Your place – it’s not what I expected.”
Mia replied, “Really?”
“What were you expecting?”
“I don’t know. I mean… Rich people always have new stuff, right? Like brand spankin’ new. But your stuff – isn’t. But we’re in Silver Arches, yo! Everyone around here’s got to have the newest stuff. For sure, you’ve got the… I thought you would too. I just don’t get it.”
“How would Cara put this?” Mia tapped her forehead in thought. “Ah! ‘Renting a swanky apartment is one thing. Furnishing it is another.’”
Bern said nothing. He still didn’t get it.
“Cara and I can pay rent and afford groceries. But when we moved in, we couldn’t afford to buy all new furniture. Almost everything here was stuff the rest of our family was getting rid of. We had to settle for what they had.”
“It’s all hand-me-downs?” Rianne asked.
“I thought rich people didn’t do hand-me-downs,” Bern said.
“My uncle – he’s an accountant. He always says that the smartest thing you can do, regardless of how much money you have, is to take care of what you’ve got. When you don’t need it anymore, sell it or give it to someone else who does need it.”
“Never thought about it that way before.” Maybe Bern’s parents weren’t so crazy after all, holding onto old stuff.
“Want some water?”
“Oh. Yeah. Thanks.”
©2022 Joyce Lewis. All rights reserved.