MAHOGANY: The Mahogany Table By Maggie Robertson

Week 5: Mahogany
Word Count: 486
The Mahogany Table
By Maggie Robertson
The wedding gifts were sparse, a few practical items for setting up their first household. It was a lean time for everyone, with so many still out of work, and huge swaths of cropland reduced to dust and cracked clay. The young couple were acutely aware of the hardships facing every guest; after all, most of them were family. It was grace enough to have those they loved present to witness the joining of their lives, and they were especially grateful for each and every item. They were completely unprepared, then, when they realized that the table itself was a gift for them. They removed the plain, threadbare tablecloth to find a splendid work of art.
An inlaid border in a seamless Celtic knot pattern popped from the rich luster of the mahogany wood. Each leg of the table was carved with a different design. One leg had a depiction of Green Man and Green Woman, their arms entwined and stretched upward, hands supporting the tabletop, while their legs danced downward to their bare feet. Another leg had talons at the base, with carved raptors soaring upward in a spiral. The third leg had a waterfall cascading onto rocks at the base, salmon swimming upstream presumably to spawn, but perhaps in a journey to the dinner plates. The remaining leg was a mahogany tree, its leafed branches supporting the tabletop, muscled trunk descending to where its roots appeared anchored to the Earth itself.
The three leaves that could be added to easily accommodate a large family struck the couple as a symbol of hope. Their families had confidence that they would overcome hardships and have a warm, vibrant household with many family and friends gathering together for sharing meals.
As their family grew, they added a leaf and made room for more. When neighbors lost everything, they added a leaf and made room for more. When a cousin’s children were orphaned by influenza, they added a leaf and made room for more. Even when bursting at the seams, their home never wanted for joy.
The Mahogany Table witnessed first birthdays, and last birthdays. It listened to hopes and dreams and grand plans, and held space for empty places and broken hearts. As the years rolled by, families shrunk and children moved away, and one by one, the leaves were stored away with the memories. Finally, the table was relegated to a dusty corner of the second-hand shop.
It was August. Hot, sticky, the green of summer looking a little tired, like and old man looking forward to his afternoon nap. The bells on the shop door jangled and a young couple walked in. It was clear that their marriage was not much farther along than the unborn child that stretched her oversized t-shirt.
“May I help you?” asked the shopkeeper.
“We’re looking for a table.” Kyle replied.
“A large one” Katherine added, “We’re just getting started.”

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