1. The hardback book, The Old Man and the Boy, by Robert Ruark – red and white cover, set on an end table by the rocker in the front room, next to a brass lamp with a parchment lampshade imprinted with maple leaves.
2. The rocker, the Boston rocker, mom called it: black with gold leaves painted on it. You could see out of the window through the rungs, a view of our neighbor’s porch and Mapledale Ave.
3. Dad’s chair: low, upholstered in fabric with a small floral print. It once had a footstool, now extinct. The armrests had wooden ends: I remember putting my fingers on them, feeling the spaces between the raised bits like claws. It faced the dining room.
4. The big window looked out onto the porch and the front yard where there was a maple tree. Mom made the curtains, a brownish flower pattern on satiny cotton. (I still have them, stashed in my linen closet.) Once, as punishment for running off with Warren Beecher, I looked out this window all day, a child prisoner.
5. The couch, on the west wall: dark green. We sat on it to watch TV. We were watching a movie about Australia, with Peter Lawford (related by marriage to the Kennedys) while we waited for Dad to come back from Germany.
6. Piano, Acrosonic: on the north wall. Music on the stand: Czerny, which I hated. The piano bench had a green velvet cover. Each leg of the piano bench rested in a round, rubber, hockey-puck-like thing, to protect the rug.
7. Display cabinet over piano, glass fronted, with a lattice, to display mom’s Royal Doulton figurines, nine of them, several of characters from Dickens, which I found creepy.
8. Sconces, two, on either side of the cabinet. The candles they held were pale lavender.
9. End table by couch: square, patterned leather top. On it was a lamp with a silk shade and a dozen prismatic chandelier drops (now sitting on the cedar chest in my hall). The lamp was accompanied by three ivory figures brought back from India by my Uncle Harry: a man in a turban, an elephant, and a third that I can’t remember.
10. Painting over the couch: a landscape, showing some gloomy woods and a bridge.
11. The door next to the couch led to the front hall and was rarely used. In the hall there were a table and a mirror. I once fainted when I was standing and looking out of the front door (from growing too fast, the doctor said).
12. The wallpaper: pale green with gold medallions.
13. The carpet: gray, with a subtle incised pattern.
14. The red chair: a wing chair, upholstered in a pale red satiny material. A company chair, not for children. I remember Uncle Harry sitting there at a party once, smoking a cigar
15. Small round table next to the red chair, now at my sister’s house.
16. Bookcase next to the red chair on the west wall. Doors inset with metal netting protected thirty-odd books: Readers Digest Condensed, War and Peace, Good Stories (a sternly moralistic collection). I had read all of these except for War and Peace by the time I was eleven, including the somewhat sexy condensed novel, The Winthrop Woman, by Anya Seton. I attempted War and Peace more than half a dozen times before I managed to finish it sometime in my twenties.
17. The wooden figure of a woman making lace on top of the bookcase, which I dusted many times (every Saturday from ages seven to seventeen). Now, after an accident, only the head remains.
Mary Grimm has had two books published, Left to Themselves (novel) and Stealing Time (story collection) — both by Random House. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Antioch Review, and the Mississippi Review, as well as in a number of journals that publish flash fiction. Currently, she is working on a historical novel set in 1930s Cleveland. She teaches fiction writing at Case Western Reserve University.