The Kissing Stool

The space outside our small bedroom window is also underneath the stairs which lead to my landlord’s house above our ground floor apartment. There is a partial view of the orange orchard across the road, and the hills beyond, recently and fleetingly decorated with the pale pink and white fluff of the almond blossom. A stream of sunshine does find its way into the room. I enjoy watching the dust particles dancing as I shake the blankets and make the bed.It makes sense to keep this area clean. I habitually swept the concrete hard standing and occasionally washed it down to minimise the dust factor.  That was until our new neighbours moved in about five months ago. They have left a box of oddments outside (cardboard now thoroughly wet, initial signs of decomposition observable), a gas bottle, two half-empty paint containers, and an unused green vinyl-covered exercise step. I mistook this permanent display for temporary storage.

The sunbeams transport me in time to the home of my grandmother’s friend. My sister and I are both under five, and are accompanying our grandmother on a visit for morning tea. We have been reminded to be, and remain, on our best behaviour. Just prior to entry, Gran removes a tissue from her handbag, inspects her shoes, and polishes the rounded toes of ours. We two girls sit together on the edge of the seat of a capacious armchair, backs straight, and take care not to swing our feet about.

Sunlight diffused through lace curtains enhances the gleam of the great silver teapot, and draws my attention further afield to a small round padded stool, not more than six inches high. It is upholstered in heavily brocaded Sanderson linen, flecked with green and burgundy, and dominant gold. Shiny brass tacks in close formation decorate its perimeter, and reflect on the high gloss lacquer of the carved mahogany legs. Gran excuses herself from the room to spend a penny. Her friend beams at us indulgently, her legs crossed diagonally at the ankle. I ask what it is, this strange object.

“That, my dear, is a kissing stool!” She laughs and smiles, and suddenly looks more beautiful than elegant. At that moment, her very tall and slender husband, impeccably attired in a suit with cravat, enters the room. He sits down.
“Ah yes, the kissing stool!” They smile at each other.

Perhaps I should suggest to my neighbour an alternative use for her exercise step?


Note: The word or phrase in bold appeared in my previous blog.

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