|Horse by Feliciano Guimaraes, (CC by 2.0)|
In my grandmother’s spare bedroom, there was a red horse hair sofa.
Red horse hair sofa…For some reason, these words fascinate me. As I toss them over and over in my mind, I can actually see that sofa. I can feel it. It’s hard and rough and overstuffed.
But was there really a horse hair sofa in my grandmother's second bedroom? Are sofas even made from horse hair? Perhaps my memory is playing tricks.
The other day when the words ‘red horse hair sofa’ popped into my head yet again, I decided to do some googling. Horse hair sofas do exist. Perhaps my grandmother did indeed have one. But I am not really sure.
When I was about 6 years old, I had a day’s holiday from school. I spent that free day at home with my mother and 2 younger sisters. We watched the horse racing on TV. Before each race my mother and I chose the horse we thought would win. Our choices were based solely on name. “Angel Eyes, that’s my horse,” I said, with a dreamy look in my own eye. My mother and I would sit side-by-side, cheering our horses towards the finish line. It didn’t matter if they lost. There was always another race. We could try again.
On that same day, I remember my mother giving me some money. I walked up to the local shop all by myself. I felt very grown up. What did I buy? I don’t recall.
But I do remember what happened when I went back to school the next day.
“Where were you yesterday?” my teacher asked.
My eyebrows shot downwards. A frown appeared on my face. I didn't understand. Wasn’t yesterday a holiday? Weren’t all the school children at home? They weren't. My mother and I had got into a muddle. The holiday was still a week away. Not that I told my teacher about our mistake. It seems, even at that young age, I knew how to get myself out of an awkward situation. I lied: “I was sick.” The teacher never found out I’d enjoyed a wonderful day horse racing with my mother.
I look back in time and wonder how accurate my memory is. My mother doesn’t like horse racing. Would she have let a 6 year old girl walk up to the shops alone? It seems highly unlikely. But I can picture everything so clearly. I suppose I could ask my mother but have you ever noticed how memories can differ from person to person?
“That’s not how it happened!” she might say, shaking her head firmly.
“But I'm certain I'm right,” I could reply.
Horse hair sofas, horse racing… wonderful stories dancing inside my head. I don’t know if they are true or not, but somehow they are part of me. They must fit into the story of my life somewhere.
I could make them fit in a fictional way. Don’t you think a red horse hair sofa and a day of horse racing belong in one of my stories?
Auntie Jenny and Celeste are sitting side-by-side on the sofa, in front of the TV. It's a red overstuffed sofa. Celeste runs her fingers over it. It feels hard and scratchy.
“This sofa used to belong to Nanna,” says Auntie Jenny. “It’s stuffed with real horse hair.”
Celeste’s eyes open wide. “A red horse hair sofa,” she says, rolling the words around her tongue. She frowns. “Not real horse hair?”
Auntie Jenny doesn’t answer. She doesn't even hear Celeste’s question. She is looking at the TV screen. “Celeste! They’re bringing out the horses for the next race. Which one do you think’s going to win? Choose your horse!”
“Angel Eyes,” says Celeste quickly. “Isn’t that a beautiful name? Which horse do you want?”
Auntie Jenny doesn’t hesitate either. “Slippery Dip! Isn’t that a fun name?”
The horses are racing. Auntie Jenny and Celeste cling to the edge of the red horse hair sofa. They hardly dare breathe. Which horse will win?...
Talking of Auntie Jenny and Celeste, if you are interested in my children's novel, The Angels of Angel Creek, it should be available for purchase in a few days' time!