Welcome to the third daily scene of “Gilded”, a 31 day novella. Each day this October will bring a new installment. To start at the beginning, click here. Enjoy!
Gerty squeezed around a pile of tattered National Geographics and into a cramped back room of the old barn. This was one of the last spots in Mount Pleasant she’d saved for a rainy day, hoping to find some potential pieces. All she needed was the right shape. It could be the perfect legs on a chair, the curve of a dresser. A starting place to direct the new life for the piece. She could tear off fabric, sand down paint. She’d even repair frames, as long as the shape held potential.
She squeezed behind an overpriced farmhouse table and looked through a stack of old frames sitting on a tired settee in the corner. Some wood glue and lacquer and these frames held potential. But then she took a better look at the settee itself. She wasn’t even sure what color the fabric was. The frame appeared to be black, and poorly painted at that. Drips were evident in several places. But the shape. She couldn’t tell for sure, but she hadn’t seen anything quite like it. Small claw feet tapered up to thin, shapely legs, which held up the base with an airy feel. But everywhere here eyes landed there were globs of paint. Possibly some intricate woodwork around the frame, but the sooty paint layer was too thick to tell. She took a breath and immediately sneezed. Mold, for sure, and maybe rats had a go at this thing at one point or another. She shook her head and walked away.
The rest of the barn was more spacious, pieces lined up and polished. A big display of dough bowls and candlesticks and every other odd and end people liked. She picked up a milk glass vase to buy. Nothing else really caught her eye.
“Just this today.” Gerty paid the owner at the haint blue painted counter.
He wrapped the vase in a few layers of old newspaper. “Didn’t see anything else that interested you? Did you check the back room—that’s where we put all the clearance items.”
Gerty smiled and glanced back into the cramped room behind him. The settee was just in view, one blackened leg stuck out like an old lady trying to show off, unaware of her wrinkles. “I was back there. Just looked at that settee for a minute, but I’m not sure it would work.” The beast of a thing would take days, maybe a week, of work, as well as crowd her workroom. Sanding every crevice and lifting that old paint off—her fingers cramped just thinking of it. But something about it seemed to pull her.
The owner bagged her new vase and handed her some change. “What settee?” He glanced over his shoulder, adjusted his glasses. “Oh, you talking about that one in the corner with the frames?”
She nodded. And frowned. Why did she even bring it up? There was no way she could handle that big a project right now, no way to finish it before the Design Walk.
“Thing’s been sitting in this barn since we bought the place and turned it into an Antique store.” He shook his head and leaned on the counter. “I’ve tried to get rid of it so many times. Smells bad too, everyone says. And yeah, it does. For some ridiculous reason, I just can’t stand to throw it away. You can have it if you’ll get it out of here.”
Gerty wished she could turn down freebies. She’d thought she learned long ago to be selective in her acquisitions, holding out for only things with the best potential. Moving to Charleston had cured her of being a pack rat, of only because their apartment above the shop was a tight 900 square feet. But there was something about that settee.
“I’ll take it.” Gerty sighed. She was a hopeless optimist when it came to broken furniture. Always hoped it could be redeemed.