The Chicken and the Sofa

By Vix Ford

Vix thinks about writing a lot but rarely puts pencil to paper.  Her mannequin blog is available to read here.

I was born out of a lie. My mother stood at the altar,  looking across at my father, bloodied bits of toilet paper stuck to his shaving cuts, with the knowledge that for his nuptials his own mother had shaved his face that morning, and she ignored her rising disquiet. Indeed I come from a family built on lies and truths, like most of us. The lies seem quiet, discovered in dark corners where few people look. They rarely get mentioned in anything but hushed tones. The truths are much more brazen. They are spat and spluttered, quickly and sharp, like knives. They hurt more somehow.

There are lies that are big, there are lies that are painful but the lie that stands out for me, from my own upbringing at least, is not terrible, not life-ending, not based on years of deceit. It was the time I was suspicious of the meat on my plate. I questioned my Mum. ‘It’s just chicken’ she told me ‘Eat it up’. I did. It was tender, tasty and my plate was left clean. I don’t remember how the lie was discovered but it was-the truth was out. It was not chicken. It was rabbit-the same soft, warm, sniffing rabbit I had petted a week previous when visiting my Mums friends who were rabbit breeders. I was heartbroken. My choice had been taken away.

Being truthful in a calm and clear way became more important to me when my own motherhood began. I became acutely aware of the everyday lies we tell our young, to extend their already vivid and colourful imaginations, to smooth over the harsh cracks of life, to get them to eat their peas. None of it sat well with me and I decided to lie as little as possible. I never mentioned Father Christmas. I never said Granny’s pony had gone to fly in the sky on a long holiday (although Granny did). I never told them that greens would put hairs on their chest.

However, in the end I did lie to my children. For all of their lives we had sat, snoozed, laughed, cried and had photographs taken on a giant red L-shaped sofa. It was huge. Great for making castles out of, it cut the open-plan room in half, and was subjected to much jumping, accidental baby wees, spilt teas and crumbs. It provided a comfortable place for years of breastfeeding, reading and cuddles, and it was very much loved by us all. When the father of my children and I finally went our separate ways I found myself desperate to create my own new look, my own way, my own style. I began to hate the sofa for reminding me constantly of that which was now broken. I wanted to get rid of it. But it seemed cruel for them to lose their beloved sofa on top of their Dad moving out, so I lied. I told them it was flea-ridden (we had a flea-troubled cat at the time). They cried. They made me save the corner piece. They asked me to make them capes out of the covers. They drew all over the back in marker pen and we all posed, intentionally, like a pretend happy family before it got carried away to the dump.

I have always known that when my children find this lie out, they will struggle with it. I have been conscious of it every now and again, particularly when they moan about my new sofas. It has been 7 years now but they still miss it. Tonight I have told them. One of them cried and the other questioned what else was not true.