Writing Prompt: Chairs Outside
April 24, 2011 § 3 Comments
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.