The Magic Desk, on “Picture Day”

If you ever doubt there is more to our world than meets the eye, let me tell you about my Magic Desk.

No, it’s not a treadmill desk. In fact, it wasn’t designed as a desk at all. The Magic Desk started its life in Thailand decades ago as a carvery table. A writer friend gifted it to me in 2007. Here’s what she had to say:

“You probably could write a few shocking stories about the table.  It’s led a wild and disreputable life on two continents, its provenance beginning in Mr. Ting’s furniture shop in Bangkok, Thailand in about 1962.  Mr. Ting was a Chinese Catholic who fled China with his family during one of the many revolutions.  He built the Ruam Rudee Catholic church and school as a gift to his adopted country.  We attended church there and our son went to the Ruam Rudee School which was run by French nuns.  The furniture shop had no electricity, save for a couple of naked light bulbs hanging forlornly from the ceiling, and all the work was done by hand.”

My friend’s husband was career army, a colonel in the Defense Intelligence Agency. That’s what took them to Thailand. The table was purchased for the purpose of entertaining. They did a lot of that, complete with a waiter in a white jacket who stood behind the carvery table and cut slices of meat for their guests.

The table is U-shaped and made of teak. I use it fully extended, but two sixteen-inch sections on either end can be folded down. It has six legs with a hint of fancy carving at the tops. Gouges and scratches punctuate the surface, some from the table’s earlier life and some from me.

Where’s the magic, you’d like to know? It started with my friend’s insistence that I take the table.

“We’re moving across the state next month, I don’t need any more furniture to pack,” I said by way of argument.

She adamantly refused to listen and pressed on. “You need this table. You can use it as a desk for your writing.”

“I already have a desk- -“

“You need another one. This one,” she insisted.

I caved in with reluctance, wondering how to explain the extra piece of furniture to my husband. We had a quote of forty cents a pound from the moving company. The table didn’t weigh that much, but. . .

The table became my writing desk. The following week, I heard back from a literary journal. It was an acceptance for one of my short stories, the first one ever! The week after that I was awarded first prize in an online poetry contest. When we arrived at our new home across the state, the circumstances of resettling a grumpy middle-aged cat inspired a new story. That one sold, too.

You can see the pattern: three times in as many months, the carvery table turned writing desk had delivered good news. The Magic Desk had become a partner in my literary pursuits.

Where did the magic come from? From the kindness of my friend and her belief in my writing. When I sit down to work I think of her faith in me and work a little harder, a little longer than I did before. As another writer friend said, “Have you ever noticed that people who work hard tend to have better luck?”

Is there some piece of magic you can bestow on a friend? Give it some thought; when we cheer each other on, the hard work becomes that much easier.

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