A couple of weeks ago I had to move out. This prompted an idea for a short story. Give it some thought.
The Regal Chair and the Student
The trees ruffled violently as we made our way to the apartment. Our hair covered our faces and the wind blew up our coats and dresses. It was a powerful afternoon before the calm of the quiet hours when the sky would turn to warmer colours as it said goodbye.
The apartment was overcrowded. Resembling a kindergarten as everyone was curled up on the floor, waiting with their plates for the cake to be served. This was an awkward gathering initially presented as something entirely different. I sat next to the pair who could not help but smile at the long silences, when everyone was racking their brain to find a clever thing to throw into the mix of unsuccessful conversation topics.
The girl was stunning in her charm and grace, her freshly coloured tangerine hair catching the few remaining sun’s rays. The man by her side took large gulps of his beer, looking sleepy and unimpressed. They sat huddled close together, isolating themselves from everyone else, but she did not cease to whisper to him about her desire to speak to the nice people who were present. They soothed their embarrassed nerves with alcohol and so in only a few hours they, along with everyone else, were no longer afraid of one another. People moved around and about, changing their little cliques rapidly in order to preserve the nature of these talks – to later label them brief encounters. Soon the living room, which had been so very lively, looked deserted but for the trio who stayed behind. The man and another girl sat on a sofa, whilst our heroine took a seat in an old cherry wood chair, which had a light mossy green velvet material as its covering.
As she sat down, jittery from the liquor and excitement, her eyes took on a dazed look. It became clear that something was trying to escape from her heart. She looked at the girl on the sofa, raising her left eyebrow which ensured that she resembled an Eastern European Vivian Leigh, and spoke;
“Lana, I propose a business transaction. Name anything that I could do, so that you would let me keep this chair,”
Lana sighed and gave a little laugh, her eyes slightly closed with sleep.
“I’m not going to give you the chair, Louise,”
“What? Why?” Suddenly alert, she leaned forward slowly.
“You know that I willingly give away my things, the ones I don’t need, but I just realise that it would be Matt who would have to carry it,” At this moment the man stopped sipping his beer and joined in firmly;
“Lou, you don’t need that chair. I’m not going to carry it,”
“I’ll carry it myself. Lana, what do you want for it?”
“Nothing. I’d give it to you for free, but it’s a silly idea. Matt will have to carry it and then what will you do with it afterwards when you’ll have to move?”
Louise stroked the armrests and breathed deeply with anger. Meanwhile the kitchen and other rooms buzzed with people and once in a while a lonely wanderer came into the living room to grab a dumpling or a potato pancake, oblivious to the tension which permeated the air.
“But I want it!” Louise suddenly exclaimed, unable to keep in her passionate emotions any longer. “I want it! I want it! I want it!” She jumped up and down on the beloved chair.
The two befuddled souls on the sofa looked at each other and laughed. This exchange between them was not malicious, but rather kind as they were both used to Louise’s occasionally entertaining outbursts.
“Louise, if you can pick up that chair and carry it to the door of the living room, then we can take it,”
“Are you serious? You want me to pick up a chair?”
“Yes, and carry it,”
“Do you want to embarrass me somehow?”
“In front of who? There is no one here,”
Louise stood up determined, granted only a couple of minutes after this exchange had taken place, and walked behind the chair. She carefully removed the mustard coloured quilt which was placed on the back of the chair, prompting a laugh from both Lana and Matt. Then with the most composed expression she could force herself to put on, she grabbed the armrests, hugging the large piece of furniture, and lifted it off the ground. Only for a moment and then it fell right back onto the tribal carpet.
“So we’re not taking it,” Matt laughed and rose to go to the window with a cigarette between his teeth. As he walked Lana once again noticed the slight limp in his right leg. Once he reached the window he stood there quietly when he caught Louise’s gaze. Aimed at him, it was furious, unforgiving and petrifying. They looked at one another for a while, Lana watching them with both amusement and pity. Finally, unable to withstand this silence, she spoke;
“Louise, it’s best if you forget about it. In the end, the things you own end up owning you. Look at me, I’ve hoarded a room full of items I don’t need and can’t bring with me, only because they were cheap. You don’t think about how impractical it is at the time, but I’m telling you that you will regret it,”
Louise pursed her scarlet lips into a pout, her eyes beginning to water, but this was not perceptible to the others. Then Matt walked over to her and picked up the chair. The strain of its weight could be seen on his features. He put it down.
“I’m not carrying this,”
The party took place in the other rooms while the living room had become a war zone. The chair now seemed as valuable as saffron or gold.
“Lana, this is after all a business transaction. What do you want for the chair?”
“Nothing,” Lana sighed, exhausted.
“Then I can have it?”
“Of course, you can have it. I just don’t know how you will …”
A loud squeal of ecstasy came from Louise as she rushed to sit back down on her treasure. Her eyes glittered with untainted happiness. It was the happiest anyone had seen her in months.
“I’m not carrying it,” Matt muttered again, his eyes starting to show his disappointment in Lana, who was shaking her head.
“I don’t care. I love it so much, that I’ll do anything to get it back home,”
Afterwards everything continued the way it had in the other rooms, whilst in the living room the conversation moved onto other topics. The night was deemed a success by Louise.
The following day Matt carried the chair to Louise’s apartment. It now stands in the corner of a different living room, on a different carpet, in the possession of a different person. Louise loves it, at least for now. Months later she will have to move it out of the country. Perhaps she will, but what she does not realise is – she now has an owner.