Writing Prompt: Chairs Outside

April 24, 2011 § 3 Comments

Chairs Outside

For me, there’s something intriguing and weird about furniture outside. The idea of having something so domestic and inside being put out at the mercy of the elements brings up vague feelings of fear, discomfort, and excitement. Sometimes it’s awesome, because I get to carry home a brand new bookshelf with my boyfriend and start using it right away. Other times, it’s convenient, because I get to enjoy the comfort of nature and the comfort of indoors all at once. Still other times, it’s jarring. Chairs don’t belong outside. Yes, lawn chairs and deck chairs do, but not dining chairs or recliners, no.

The prompt for today is to write about indoor furniture in an outside space.

Feel free to bend this any way you’d like, and use the picture above as further inspiration if you’d like. I took it at a restaurant in China, when I was on the way up to the Great Wall with my classmates.

Here’s my response. Remember: post yours in the comments!

I leaned back and the legs dug into the soft ground beneath us. I imagined the mud sucking up the cherry wood, slurping it up like one long noodle until I would fall backward into the damp grass.

“Be careful,” he said. I heard his chair leg slurp, too.

“I am,” I said.

“Anyway, so then I told her I would rather die than move. She just told me to go to my room.”

“I’m going to miss you.”

“But I’m not going to move.”

“You are. You have to,” I said. I knew he had to. I knew he would. I knew what he’d say next, too.

“No, because we’re going to finally do it. All that’s left is choosing between France and Italy.”

He brought it up, and images of our escape danced in the stars that hung, icy blue and sharp like thorns in the big, darkening sky.

These were a constellation of the backpacks we’d hidden in his grandparent’s attic, stuffed with old clothes and canned food we’d stolen from their pantry. These, connected just so, showed the hiking boots he’d bought for my birthday last year. He’d told me to keep them safe for our escape. I had given them to Cherill for her trip to Mongolia with her parents. That was the closest we’d ever gotten to our escape.

“Vic, it’s a great dream, but it’s just a dream,” I said. I felt the words leave my mouth and get brushed away by the cool October breeze. My head felt light, then, as if all of the stress of dealing with this moment had been tugged out along with the words that I’d never said but often thought.

I could hardly hear him above the crickets, but straining, I heard, “You never believed it?”

“Even if I said yes, you would come back tomorrow with an excuse, the way you always have. Maybe someday you’ll go there, but not now.”

“I will go,” he said. “I’ll go whether you come with me or not.”

I told him he wouldn’t and he twisted himself in his chair so he could look at me. The legs of his chair sank further into the mud until he seemed to totter on the back legs. He didn’t notice, however. He yelled at me and I closed my eyes to listen to the sounds as they echoed away across the field, slinking up the bark of the tree next to us, huddling down in the squirrels’ nests.

“Don’t be stupid,” I said. He pushed down on the arm of the chair like he’d lunge over it and attack me, wild cat in his frustration. Instead, the chair finally sank back enough into the ground that he tumbled over the back of it and landed stomach down in the grass.

I knelt by him and sighed. He seemed to disappear into the ground. In the night, his brown hair was the same color as the dying grass, just as stringy and separated. He refused to shower when he was angry with his parents. I put my hand on the greasy mess.

“I really will miss you,” I said. I heard him crying and I sat with him for a long time. I passed the time by studying the veins on the back of his pale hands as they grasped and tore up bunches of grass, by spelling out words like distant and fading in the stars, and by listening over the wind to try to find out if fireflies made noise when they lit up, like the buzzing of miniature lightbulbs.

When I got bored, I stood up and left him there. I wrote myself a reminder to call my grandparents the next day and tell them where the backpacks were so they wouldn’t have problems with mice. I looked at the paper for a long time, holding it above my face as I lay in bed. I waited for him to call me, to give me a proper goodbye. When I heard the first bird sing outside, when the dawn was peeking through my window, nose over the ledge, I flattened the note out on my nightstand and went to sleep.


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§ 3 Responses to Writing Prompt: Chairs Outside

  • Uraziel says:

    Underneath the peeling black,
    gray stuff is aroused, reaching
    for nearby dandelions from
    the safety of visible springs.

    We have considered it for years, like
    a child we had given away, a thing of
    evil just shedding its skin for purgatory.
    The night has made it a mountain,

    a cutout in the velvet sky, a shadow of
    the shadow of earth. In its fractal prison,
    dreams stagnate, scratching at the cushioned walls
    where white stuff is hidden in abundance,

    and gray is never found. On it, the pressing of bodies, briefly, the heat of stars having seared

    new, shy shapes out of the horizon.

    • Hannah says:

      “On it, the pressing of bodies, briefly, the heat of stars having seared

      new, shy shapes out of the horizon.”

      This is a fabulously strong ending, Uraziel. Thank you!
      I wonder if anyone could tell what it’s about without the prompt.

  • Adam Ormsby says:


    Curling and sagging, the leather couch thought to itself that it was not meant to be outside. It was not meant to be outside, and it was not meant to be in the rain. The couch simply was not an outdoor couch. Unfortunately, it was unable to do anything about its situation, being born without knees and all. Of course, it had legs. Six of them to be exact. One on each of its four corners and two on the edges in its middle. The couch saw these two extra legs as somewhat of a nuisance.

    Once again in the center of a storm, quite possibly the largest downpour in Langerberry in half a century, the couch decided that it had had enough of simply being a couch. So it gave itself a name.

    Edward continued to stand in the open meadow amidst the wind and rain and pondered his new existence. He felt alive for the first time in years. Edward, being somewhat of an ignorant couch, had not quite grasped the thought the he was still the same old couch standing in a meadow as he had been before, but he had nonetheless begun a new stage in his life.

    The rain slowed to a trickle and the puddles that Edward had accumulated on his cushions had made them sink a little bit. The heavy rain had also pounded pockmarks into every bit of him looking to the sky. Edward thought this made him look quite masculine. Whether this was due to him believing that they looked like scars or pockmarks from shaving is unknown, but he had garnered quite an impression of himself in a very short amount of time.

    This did not last very long, however, as Edward found himself unable to do anything about the bits of nature encroaching upon his weathered hide. The flowers had begun creeping up his legs, vine-like and slithery, only to reach through the holes in his underside and work their way up. They pushed through the couch cushions and mangled the polyester inside them until all of it was forced out and blown away by the chill wind. Edward’s wide left arm became the home for some squirrels that had bored their way through its wooden front. Edward did like the acorns that they stored inside him. The squirrels always left a mess after dinner.

    Time passed again and nature had enveloped Edward even more, but he had become used to it sometime after the spiders had arrived. They are my little pets, he thought. They know my every inside and do their best to try and patch me up from time to time. That white stuff sure is sticky.

    They did not do such a good job of patching him up, but Edward loved them all the same. The bird nest in his bony springy back was quite a nice replacement for his skin as well. Some days, when the mother bird nestled just right, Edward thought he had a heart. A beating heart that pulsed ever so gently amidst his sturdy frame.

    But Edward began to get tired of this life as he had of the one before he had a name. He felt as though his existence needed action. He wanted to think even more than he was, which he thought to be quite a considerable amount, and he wanted to act upon his wishes. Edward needed a forward motion in his life.

    So he walked away.

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