Selections from the Wolfmonth Catalog of the Fairyland Regional Fürni Store
by Josh Pearce
Klädskåp--made of the highest-quality particleboard. Takes you to a small, kind of
rundown vacant lot where it's always autumn and never Halloween. The lot is surrounded by
concrete walls that are too tall and blank to be climbed, which reduce the sky to a cold square far
out of reach.
Högplatå--good for pagan Saturnalia harvest. Appears to be made out of slabs of stone
in the catalog but is actually painted styrofoam. Breaks in half almost immediately when you place
your very sick cat on it. Your cat stops moving, can hardly even twitch his ears at you anymore.
So, crying, you take him to the vet, who pushes in a saline solution to clean his veins and then a
solution of something else that closes his eyes forever. This cat was nineteen or twenty years old.
You've known him longer than you've known some of your siblings. You were the one who
named him. You rest him on the broken table. He hasn't come back to life by morning but he
doesn't seem to be decomposing, either.
Förstaringlas--full-length looking glass. It's not even glass, just a thin sheet of wobbly
plastic. Barely reflective. You have to get right up to it and cup your hands around your eyes
before you can see anything within. There's a little blonde girl in there, wearing an old-fashioned
frock. Tea-party with her toys. She makes nasty faces at you, stomps her feet, throws herself on
the ground to have a shrieking tantrum. You back away slowly and rarely have the curiosity to
Sittplats--assembly required. Its thousand pieces are that plastic cutlery that at first
glance appear to be stainless steel but are, disappointingly, only very shiny plastic. Spend an hour
melting it all down in a pot over low heat, gagging on the fumes. Press the molten mess into the
mold that came with the box, and you're rewarded with a lightweight bucket seat. The plastic feels
tacky and sticks to your skin whenever you stand up. Nobody comes to kneel down before you
and swear fealty but your house does gain a minor infestation of salamanders, newts, and geckos
that run up your walls and hide in the corners of the ceiling, just out of reach.
You use the seat as a desk chair in the home office while you write out invitations to a
housewarming party for your revamped living space. You use your finest calligraphy. A party is
just the thing to pick up your spirits. You have a preponderance toward papercuts whenever you
sit in the half-melted chair.
Brödrost--you buy a cute little toaster and plug it in. It glares up at you and turns its
back. "Come on," you coax, "do something brave today." It pulls its own plug out and grumps.
Wisps of smoke gather in fuming clouds over its head. Even when you plug it back in and bribe it
with raisin bread, the little punkass burns angry black lines into your breakfast.
Kvast--okay, at first they seem to perform as advertised, endowed with self-motivation,
packaged in reasonably-priced sets but, come on, all they want to do is go outside and sweep the
damn yard. And then they track all that dirt right back into the house, no matter how many times
you swat them with a rolled-up newspaper and yell very loudly to assert your dominance. If you
don't let them in, they're gonna keep you up all night tapping against the sliding glass door.
Pläd--this one goes well with the motif of the living room and hovers about an inch off
the floor and all the dust from outside gets under it, where the brooms can't reach. You try
standing on the rug, shouting, "Up!" and other declarative commands that do nothing. Try
weighing it down with furniture to at least use it as a nice accent piece but it balloons and bulges
up in the middle. You set it free. It floats around the ceiling like cigarette smoke that won't
dissipate. One day you leave the window open. When you come home from work, it's gone.
Förhänge--yellow curtains, rectangular print pattern, which you hang over the front
window and draw tight. From that point onward, no one comes to your door, not Girl Scouts
selling cookies (sad), nor proselytizers (okay, good), and not even the mail (no more strange
furniture catalogs, at least). Maybe you were supposed to control an entire fantasyland whenever
you stood behind them but seems as if instead nobody pays attention to you. You twitch them
aside once or twice or five times in the evening after work, just keeping an eye on the postbox in
case anybody decides to RSVP.
Skåp--the cupboard is wooden with a tiny iron lock and key, looks like something found
in the attic of your grandma's place. It cleans up well, made of solid wood. Sturdy construction.
You buy a bag of plastic cowboys and indians. You put them in, close the door, turn the key, and
listen to them come to listless life in the dark. The cowboys smoke instead of eating, instead of
drinking. They smoke instead of breathing, and cough up pieces of particularly nasty 19th-century
pulmonary disease. The indians take to cheap whiskey too quickly and you never see them pick
themselves up off the lower shelves.
Madross--this is the most expensive thing you buy from the catalog and all it does is cry
in the corner because it misses its family. You sit on the floor next to it and pat its shoulder-corner, rub its back, feel the stiff springs under its soft skin like creaky vertebrae and soothe it
through the night while the neighbors pound on the walls and curse and shout.
After the sweat and effort putting the furniture together, it's all just plaster and plywood.
Rickety, flimsy, with a thin shellacked magic. You thought that maybe with the right furnishings
your home would look less empty but all that you've accomplished is to divide one large space
into a bunch of smaller spaces. This was supposed to cement you as an adult. Instead it's all a
bunch of cardboard dollhouse accessories. Subdivide each square. Fill the void.
There must be more to it than just this.
Klädskåp--the abandoned lot becomes your quiet place, far away from traffic, neighbors,
early-morning birdsong, telemarketers, solicitors. The walls are less intimidating now. Less
keeping you in and more keeping other people out, which is fine, everything's better without
others anyway. You kick rocks around.
Högplatå--putting the broken table near your living room window keeps him in a square
of sunlight most of the day. Warm in the spot where he always liked to nap, and his forever
sleeping body feels almost natural when you pet it.
Förstaringlas--the date on your receipt becomes the anniversary. On that day, every
year, you take time to look into the mirror, check in on that blonde girl. You're really rooting for
her, you say to her reflection--rooting for her to not grow up into a complete asshole.
Förhänge--you can see the yellow curtains from your bed, the last thing you see before
you fall asleep. You've picked out a new bedspread decorated with orange flowers. Every night
you have that dream where people only notice you if you're completely naked.
Brödrost--gotta keep an eye on this one. More than once it's taken a dive for the sink
while you wash the dishes. Not sure what to do with it. You're learning to tolerate the taste of
charcoal toast. It hesitates at the doorway while you take a bath, like a lost pet. Some days you
feel like letting it in, picking it up, and cuddling. But you chase it away with a well-thrown
Skåp--it's been long enough. You close the cupboard and lock it, turning them back into
plastic. You bury the cowboys and indians in separate plots in the dirt of your little abandoned lot.
You put a baby Jesus figurine in, breaking up the nativity set, and close the skåp's door, but you
stop short of actually turning the key.
Sittplats--Sit heavily and rest. The salamanders and geckos come out around your feet,
darting among the weeds. You can't get anything else to grow in the dirt no matter how many
seeds you scatter. Bugs infest everything, eating the shoots. The lizards feed on the bugs, so
they're happy, at least until blackbirds come swooping down from the overcast, drawn to the easy
Förstaringlas--break apart its frame so you can polish the cheap foil backing and replace
the plastic with glass. Put it back together and turn it around--taken by surprise by the young
lady who stands very close to her side of the mirror. She jerks back, too, unused to such a clear
image. In all the time since you bought this mirror, look how she's grown into a person. You
practice a smile and wave. Hang the mirror in the abandoned lot to give it some depth and the
flickering dancing presence of a faraway stranger.
Things get scuffed, which you might think makes the magic bleed out and diminish. But as
things acquire their own personalities, they also acquire their own magic.
If you let the brödrost do what he wishes and set fire to the house, burning up the
klädskåp, would you burn with it? Or would your pocket universe vanish from that outside world
with you tucked within, where nobody could ever find you and force you to rejoin them?
It's time to let things go. Time to let your old friend go as well. You've already got a
graveyard started so you carve out a third plot, choking on your grief as you shovel dirt on top of
the shoebox coffin. The madross is your only other mourner. Movement catches the corner of
your eye--the blonde girl stands in her frame, watching your personal ceremony. She's cuddling a
black kitten in her arms, a squirming animal with a little golden bell tied around its neck. She
presses her hands against the glass, then against her eyes, then turns away like she cannot watch
Pläd--you find the carpet caught up in the branches of the taller bushes in the garden and
you use a broomhandle to knock it down. It's frayed and unraveling, stained. No telling where it's
drifted in from. You pluck its fibers loose and methodically braid them into a long enough rope
with a noose at the end. The girl watches your progress for a minute, then steps out of view
somewhere else in her mirror world. The light on her side changes, brightens like a shutter has
been thrown open. There's no branch strong enough to hold your weight in here, but that doesn't
matter--the magic rope lifts up toward the sky and tightens its knot. You grip it with both hands
and plant your feet like you're struggling against a kite in a strong wind.
A noise from above distracts you. The black kitten tips along the perimeter wall. The bell
around its neck sounding out sharp and fine. The kitten carries something in its mouth and drops
it over the edge and you move automatically to catch the object before it hits the ground. It's a
little glass vial, stoppered with a cork, something rattling inside it. You hear the bell again as the
kitten goes down the other side of the wall, quite easily, jumping down onto something you can't
You open the bottle and pour it out into your hand. It's filled with teeth. A fistful of a
child's milk teeth. You cannot question the girl in the mirror but she gives you a fresh white grin
and shows you an old brass key. Mimes turning it in a lock.
Skåp--you arrange the baby teeth into a double crescent smile at the bottom of the
otherwise empty cupboard. Shut it up and lock it tight. After a minute, you hear a scratching
inside and back away. What do we form from children's teeth and prefab magic these days? You
hesitate to touch the key again.
Leave the garden, go into your old house. You take down one of your yellow curtains and
throw it over the wardrobe to hide it from your thoughts. It would be so easy to disappear forever
the same way. No one would come looking. No one has shown any interest in coming to check
out your place. If they even remembered, they would never think to look behind the curtain.
It would be even easier, so easy, to go into your garden and let the rope stretch you up by
the spine, thinner and thinner until you disappeared.
Klädskåp--a cat comes creeping like smoke. It is tiger-striped like your old friend was.
Comes through the wardrobe door into your living room and bumps its head against your leg until
you pet it. The cat yawns and shows you its frightfully human teeth before it returns to the
wardrobe. Its tail like the punctuation at the end of so are you coming, or what?
You follow the cat into the wardrobe.
The cat walks through walls. It picks a slate gray one and simply leaves the vacant lot.
Seems as though there's still magic even in off-the-shelf parts. If she could pull off something like
that, what personality can you summon with a few simple furniture hacks? You take stock. A nice
flower garden would certainly give visitors something to enjoy.
Kvast--but the bugs eat the flowers, the lizards eat the bugs. Blackbirds eat the bugs and
the lizards and the seeds. You break apart brooms, creating a frame out of their wooden handles.
Hang some of your old clothes on it, stuff it with broom straw. Stick your scarecrow in the vacant
lot and let him get to work.
Förhänge--take down the other yellow curtain and spread it out over the corner of the
garden where everything is buried. Your grief is still there but now you don't have to pay attention
to it. The scarecrow shuffles through the plants, shooing birds back into the air. He tips his hat to
Blackbirds are persistent. The scarecrow knocks them down by throwing rocks, wrings
their necks. He's starting quite a collection but still your garden isn't blooming. There are
wildflowers whose seeds were blown in over the top from some place you can't even imagine,
growing into a witch-briar tangle, but only a single flower unfolds among the thorns. The
scarecrow picks it and places it in his buttonhole. The sky grows darker with clouds each time
you go into the wardrobe. The scarecrow slouches among the weeds, catching lizards and
snapping them in half.
You scold him--the geckos and newts are supposed to be helping. He rolls one cloth eye
at you and then wings a rock at your head. "Hey!" You back out of the wardrobe into the house.
Klädskåp--You listen to the wet thwacking sounds of dead animals striking the inside of
the wardrobe. Each one makes you twitch.
Brödrost--the toaster hides in a kitchen cabinet.
Förhänge--but the scarecrow is just throwing things at random. With the curtain up, he
can't find the door.
You're asleep in your room at night when a noise suddenly wakes you. A creaking noise
from the front room where the wardrobe is. The scarecrow is more clever than he looks. The
mattress flops once to buck you off and crawls to the bedroom door. There are footsteps coming
down the hall. The madross wedges itself against the door just as it starts to open, blocking
enough that only a thin, tattered arm can reach through.
The mattress springs creak under the strain but the barrier holds until morning. When the
sun comes up you cautiously peek your head out. No one's there but you find a dead cat on the
kitchen counter, its striped fur matted and dirty. It's the mattress's turn to absorb your tears.
With a flick, the toaster pops up two perfectly browned pieces of bread and offers them to
you. Fuel for you to, come on, do something brave today. "You're right," you say. "We're going
The toaster loads two more pieces of bread and untangles a long extension cord. The
mattress squeezes into the wardrobe first to protect you from any rocks or bird beaks. The
scarecrow is nowhere to be seen, just thick tangles of briars and no flowers. It's raining, hard.
There are no birds, lizards, or aphids, so why aren't there any flowers? The wind threatens frost.
You notice that the yellow curtain is missing from the burial corner, too. The cupboard is
still where you left it, still locked, and you avoid even looking at it. As long as you leave it
unopened, you don't need to know which animal still rots in its box.
Leave the wardrobe, just for a minute. Chipboard is light enough that you can easily tip it
over onto its side. You look inside again. Now the vacant lot is knee-deep in snow. Lift with your
knees, not your back, to rotate the wardrobe another ninety degrees until it is completely upside-down. Step into your garden, into the spring sunshine. Roses on all the thornbushes.
A rock strikes you in the face. You whirl around, looking for your attacker. Another stone
barely misses. Dive into the bushes for cover. The sound of something large crashing through,
hunting you. A cloaked shape which you can see only from where it breaks branches. The
förhänge has been shredded by the thornbushes so you can see the scarecrow hiding beneath it.
He raises a broomstick arm to crack your skull open.
The brödrost, smoke puffing like a locomotive, rushes to your rescue. Gets all of three
feet before it's yanked back by the cord. The scarecrow lands a blow on your ribs and all the
breath goes out of your body. Fury on the toaster's shiny face as the bread in its slots bursts into
flame. It scrambles along the ground, a small sharp animal on a short leash.
The scarecrow raises its weapon once more.
Your mattress lifts up your toaster and embraces it until they both smolder, then it comes
charging through the roses. Flames spread from its upholstery. It broadsides the scarecrow.
It takes some time but you trim back the plants and clear out a nice sandy spot in the
middle of your lot. Picking an unbroken broomstick and the least-burnt straw from the
scarecrow's bones, you tie together a single broom and let it chase a rock around your new Zen
garden. Find the upended sittplats and set it firmly in the ground to bring back the lizards. You
use it as an end table to display your broken toaster, shined up as best you could. Plant a fistful of
roses in the toaster's slots as a creative planterbox for a fun discussion piece that all your friends
are sure to love.
The yellow curtain is gone, destroyed with the scarecrow in the mattress fire. All their
ashes are mixed and scattered across the garden. But the flowers grow brightest and biggest in
one corner of the lot, so you don't feel so sad anymore when you look at it. You feel the rope
tighten around you but for the first time in years you feel light on your feet. Buoyant. A tight knot
in your throat comes undone.
You let the rope unwind you and you hold onto the end as it lifts you like the blue patch
of sky overhead is an umbrella sweeping you up and away and you've got a grip on its handle.
You clutch at a hedge as your toes begin to leave the ground, coming away with a spray of
flowers in one hand. You've always wanted to show these flowers to someone. Look at these.
How odd. Somewhere nearby, a friendly girl has paid attention and left a window open.
Wolfmonth Catalog of the Fairyland Regional Fürni Store--there's a great big
fairyland out there. All you need to do is turn to the right page.