The wood of the kitchen table had some odd grain patterns. Not all of it, just some of it had. Pieces of various trees had likely come together from different corners of a forest. The wood must have dried in some yard for a few years and was then put together to make this table. Some of it had probably not dried long enough, as the surface was a bit warped. The boards must have had a shadow of life in them when someone put them together.
The whole thing probably generated some income for someone, in some way, for hopefully a few hours, or maybe days. It was not one of those tables that had been meticulously assembled from rare wood pulled out of a wild and exotic jungle. It had not been put together out of large planks cut out of a tree that used to be home to an entire ecosystem and would take ages or forever to replenish. It had not been torn out of the depth of a large yet fragile organism, one that had fooled itself into believing that if it were only hostile enough to humans, they would not come to cut it to pieces and burn it. It was also not made from the glued together mulch of some young plants, barely there, just a hopeful idea of a grouping; planted in rows, somewhere in a field in the country where he had been born.
It was not a cheap table that was just a shaped and dried mass of chemicals and cellulose, covered up with a sticker that had been designed in a way so it would fool the human senses into believing it had anything to do with something of natural origin. No, this was an object somewhere in the middle. The table was something that was between the meticulously and carefully put together something, and the thrown together pretend-furniture he had grown up with as a child. It neither had the smell of the exotic, nor did it gas off that carcinogenic poison he had grown accustom to smelling as a price of growing up in the era of industrialized efficiency.
The grain was odd. But only in some places. The walnut had spent years telling itself a story of seasons, it had grown in ways that adjusted to the gravity and the nutrient of the soil, and the light, the temperature, as it changed from day to night to day to night to week to month to year after year. This was real wood, chunks of it. Planks. The grain was there because the logic of a straight surface had finally been victorious over the continuous chaos of life.
And so now it was all merely lines, funny ones, on a surface, in a room, where tea would be placed before it was drunk. Somewhere near a window, under a ceiling, illuminated by a very strange lamp. It was the surface where the content of a can of sardines would end up being eaten. The entire bodies of the little fish packed into a tiny container, bones and all, but no heads or unpleasantly tasting organs. The heads and the guts would have been shipped into some other place, probably to flavor cat food. But only after having been removed by someone on some assembly line, far away from here. Maybe.
The surface was where the newspaper would end up being unfolded quickly, so the headlines could be scanned, their irrelevance admired or ridiculed, then forgotten. Headlines written as if they were obituaries of events, the tombstones of ideas. There was never a “what if”, never an inspiration of any sort, just a report, a summary, the end or ending of something, the conclusion, the fear of what could potentially follow. The fear. The fear that the paper itself would become irrelevant. And it only took a short time for it to do that, again and again.
The grain was funny, it was amusing. It was an amusing surface of a table. It had a corner where the structure of the wood opened a bit, thanks to someone’s lunch perhaps, thanks to them rushing to finish atthe end of their work day. It was now the edge where tiny pieces of wood could be pulled off, with bare uncut fingernails. Tiny splinters, they were. The tiny groupings of dead fiber felt somehow satisfying when rolled between fingertips. There was nothing dangerous in them when handled that way. Just rolled and held, not pushed under the surface of the skin; not penetrating anything, just wood, tiny pieces of it. Nothing really.
The funny table surface was not actually even in front of him when he thought about it. He was separated from it by doors nad walls and layers of other materials. It was there as an idea, a microscopic part of his memory. It was a thing one should not waste time thinking about anyway. There were much more important things to think about; so much of great importance; vital things. Things that would never ever become headlines in any paper; not even footnotes. Not even on the last page of the section that had some ironic descriptive header. Something like: “the way they lived,” perhaps. Nothing would be worth cutting and drying and putting together to create a surface to be ever even partially amused about. Or in any way useful.