The little table, which she had missed and thought about, came into her room.
Unassumingly, it went to stand by one off-white wall, clearing an outlet, just barely, after Stevey moved its delicate legs. It was shaped like a half circle, made of smooth dark brown wood, practically unadorned by groove or indentation. The little table recalled her mom to her. It had lived with her mom for thirty years or so, and before that in a small auction-house on the avenue that ran up a hill.
With the table had come a nice brown chair which even so was the wrong chair. There was another, the one she had wanted—older and darker with spindles and lathe-cut arch for a back and tooled splayed legs. She’d have to call up the kind people renting the house and inform them of the mistake. She did not know how she’d swap the chairs without a car. And Maria was fed up with driving her around.
But the little table, in these lonely days when her cat was old and sick and living with Stevey and Stevey was getting older and courting death in a way of his own, gave her more comfort than she would have thought.
The little table! It was actually here! She marveled. It was here at last living with her in her apartment in the city. It had come here all the way from that faraway house in which Mom had died. And now it was here, one little room away, down the hall. She could go and see it, and touch it, whenever she liked. And this meant a lot to her in these times of being surrounded by perfidy and waste.
Bank of America
Her mother and she had been walking in midtown. As had happened a handful of times in recent years, her mother, having to her name only about five years left to live (though they did not know that then), pointed out a building and remarked that she had once rented an apartment there. It was in the nineteen-forties, and she had held down a job in the city.
“You lived there?” asked the daughter. “Wasn’t it expensive?”
“No,” the mother said, “it was just a plain old building.”
Now it was a consortium of pizza shops, cheesecake and coffee shops, office supply vendors, one-storey boutiques selling synthetic shirts and pants for midtown office workers.
She was vaguely aware from that point on of the intersection and noticed some time later that the low buildings of that part of the block were being readied for demolition. When the pit was dug, it was half a city block long and about two storeys deep, but the pit could not have prepared anybody for the thing that came clanking out of it in regular bursts of hydraulic steam week after week steadily growing. When it was done it was a cavernous transparent hut squared off with knife-blade cornerings of glass, and festooned on the insides with aggressive red wallcoverings and hidden light sources working together with chrome reflections to make a garish heraldry of a modern bastardized sort before which all were pushed to bow and scrape. And even this, as blastingly demanding of attention as it was, took second place to the overshadowing mountain behind it, the new seat of the magazine publishing business, which was of a frightening immensity that although it could have contained a couple of Monacos or three Burundis did not have room to hire newcomers but even so, seemed to find other ways of getting its messages put into print of one kind or another (about fur coats and pianos for sale and wealth management for hire). She couldn’t figure out now, looking back, where it was along the timeline of this important group of buildings serving the magazine publishing industry and housing the Bank of America’s palacelike new automatic-teller-machine headquarters that her mom had died. She wondered if her mom had lived to see the blazing red-heralded walls, the soaring edifice that in motionless majesty (except for engineered anti-hurricane sway) held water for the magazine publishers–or if the transformation of the intersection had happened after her mom had stopped traveling in to the city.
Staggered and staccato, her thoughts were able to encompass again the little table, a smooth and curved but scarcely grooved piece of furniture which was just then occupying its own space in its own new home with her. In Spanish, it was known as una mesa, which bore a comforting similarity by way of memetic phonemesis to her private conception of her mother.