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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: It Just Ain't Friendly
By Carol Slider


Elbert and Mary-Jo Bodine had raised five kids in their sprawling clapboard farmhouse. By the time the last chick flew the Bodine coop, that coop looked pretty shabby—so what happened then seemed downright providential. At first they thought the phone call was a scam... but sure enough, it was true. Thanks to an entry blank Mary-Jo had filled out at the County Fair, she’d won a five-thousand-dollar shopping spree at Winchester Galleries, the biggest and fanciest furniture store in town.

“Well, Mama,” said Elbert, looking around the tired living room with its big old squishy green couch, “this place is about to get an EX-TREME makeover!”

A few days later, bright and early, the Bodines were waiting in front of the furniture store’s gold and glass doors when a Winchester employee unlocked them.

“Well now, ain’t this something?” said Elbert, as he and Mary-Jo stepped into the super-cooled air and eyed the rows and rows of model rooms.

“And just think,” Mary-Jo whispered, like she would at church, “we can pick whatever we want! It’s like Christmas come early.”

“Good morning!” said a bright, chipper young voice, which belonged to an equally bright and chipper young woman wearing an electric blue business suit. “I’m Andrea. Are you Mr. and Mrs. Bodine?”

“That we are,” said Elbert.

“I’m so glad to meet you!” gleamed Andrea, shaking hands with him and his wife. “Congratulations! Now, how can I help you? Do you know what you’re looking for yet?”

“Well,” said Mary-Jo, “first we’ll need a couch. That’s the main thing... and we’ll go from there.”

One of the first display rooms on their right had a monstrous carved wood sofa upholstered in satiny cream-colored brocade. The wall behind it held a huge painting in a heavy gold frame, and Elbert and Mary-Jo stared at it in awe.

“Just like Paradise,” Elbert said at last, fascinated by the grand mythical landscape of waterfalls, mountains, and classical Grecian architecture.

Mary-Jo checked the price tag on the painting and glanced uneasily at her husband.

“You know, this thing is fifteen hundred dollars?”

They tried the brocade couch, but the cushions were firm and didn’t give an inch.

“Nice to look at, but can’t imagine sitting on the thing,” Elbert said. “It just ain’t friendly. And we’re gonna have grandkids running around pretty soon...”

Smiling a knowing sales-clerk smile, Andrea led them to a nautically-themed family room, where seascapes and paintings of ships complemented a blue denim couch that looked like it could stand up to hordes of bouncing grandchildren.

Elbert and Mary-Jo sat down. They moved around a bit; then Mary-Jo said hesitantly,

“Well... I don’t know... I mean, it looks like the fabric would hold up, but... it’s kind of hard on the back...”

“Most customers like the lumbar support,” said Andrea brightly.

“Lumber, huh?” mused Elbert. “Guess that’s why it feels stiff as a board.”

Andrea led the way to another series of rooms.

“A lot of families like these kinds of couches,” she said, pointing out two family rooms with dark leather sofas, accented with colorful paintings of poppies, daisies and bluebonnets. “Leather is durable—and comfortable, too...”

The Bodines tried both couches. Elbert ran his hand over the cold, hard surfaces and looked at his wife. They’d been married so long that they could pretty much read each other’s thoughts, and Elbert spoke for both of them.

“Nice enough, I guess, kind of sophisticated, but... well... I guess leather ain’t too friendly, either...”

“That’s okay!” said the indefatigable Andrea. “I’ve got another idea...”


Two days later, a Winchester Galleries truck pulled up in front of the Bodines’ porch; and an hour or so after that, their house looked like a different place. Elbert and Mary-Jo looked around, holding hands and grinning like two kids.

“It’s perfect, ain’t it?” said Mary-Jo.

“Sure is.”

Upstairs, paintings of ships and stormy seas gave the master bedroom a serious, upscale look. The other bedrooms and the kitchen looked a lot more cheerful with brightly colored poppies, daisies and bluebonnets around the walls.

Here in the living area, the huge classical landscape—waterfalls, mountains, Grecian temples and all—dominated the room. It filled a whole wall, making everything around it look classy and elegant... and best of all, it perfectly matched the big old squishy green couch.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Gregory Kane05/02/09
Wasn't Andre wonderfully inventive! A clever conclusion.
Myrna Noyes05/03/09
Nice story! I like the Bodines; they sound like a comfortable couple to be around! And I'm glad they chose exactly what they wanted and not what they thought they needed! :)
LauraLee Shaw05/05/09
I like the voice in this well-written piece. Very creative!