5 February 2015 - 9:19 pm

Fiction: The Chair

This is a piece I wrote back in 2008. I think it started as an exercise: take a song and use it to frame a narrative. It came out creepy and strange, and darker than I had intended. And yet, I am still fascinated by it. I still hear the song in my head when I read it, eerie and beautiful.

I have been thinking about this piece a lot recently, probably because the song it is based around came on my playlist, but I thought I’d lost it. After a hunt through some computer backups from 2009, I finally unearthed it (along with a bunch of other old writings, all of which made me insanely happy).

It’s a strange little thing. I have done a little work on it this week, tidied it up and focussed the progression of the narrative a little. There are parts of it that I love – some of the juxtapositions of imagery and lyrics make me happy – and parts that I think might be too obtuse and won’t come across the way I hope. I don’t want to over-edit it, though. Some of its charm (if you can call it that) is its raw nature, so I’ve decided to stop poking at it.

This isn’t a story that I could sell, because the lyrics in it are used without permission, so I thought I’d share it here. I’m currently wondering if I should enter it in a horror story competition that is running this month (as they don’t seem to care about the rights), but I’ll see how confident I’m feeling after I’ve slept on it.

I’d love to hear what you all think!


The Chair

chair-56704_640I huddle in a room where the lack of light is close and cold. The edges of my chair pick up threads of a distant light: a bright streak across the front of the seat; glimmers on the spokes leading up the back; a hard line across the top. The legs lie in darkness.


There’s a chair 

in my head, 

on which I used to sit.


Hush. Hush, little one, don’t make a sound. But I want to. I want to cry and scream, I want to pick the chair up and bang it on the floor, bang bang, you’re dead. I want to shout terrible words just to hear my mouth make them, just to hear the walls throw them back at me, bad girl, bad girl.

Instead, I sing to myself.


Took a pencil 

and I wrote 

the following on it:


This room swallows sound. The darkness grabs it and throttles it, and spits it out again at my feet. That’s where they gather, all of my small noises: on the dirty patch of floor just in front of my toes. I try to kick them away, but they won’t leave me alone. Stupid, pathetic little sounds, the sorts of things a wounded animal might vomit up.

Silence isn’t good enough. The air is listening to the way I push and pull at it, in and out, in and out. I don’t think it likes me. It turns to brass in my mouth and I don’t want it to touch my teeth. I don’t want anything to touch my teeth; I might bite.


Now there’s a key 

where my wonderful mouth 

used to be.


I wonder what locks I might open. I run my tongue along my teeth, taste brass again, and try to think of answers to questions, so many questions. I have been asked over and over again; they’ve gone now, but they’ll be back to ask more of me. Their words hang in the air: bright black things dangling in the darkness.

I cling to my chair with its flecks of light. It is solid; it rocks me. But it cannot make a rock out of me. They ask too much. Leave me to my chair.


Dig it up, 

throw it at me,


I’m being buried under the weight of their words. Like a secret.


Dig it up, 

throw it at me.


Like my secret. It sticks to me, mud on my skin, drying and cracking and showing me naked underneath. I can’t tell; I must never tell. It’s my mud, my dirt, my crack and break. Bless me, beat me, makes no difference. It’s mine and I’ll never give it up.


Where can I run to,


I am the rabbit. No, I am the fox, and the hunt is on high. I hide in the scrub and the brush; I crouch in the basement and huddle by my chair. I am a friend of the dark, but the dark doesn’t like me. I run and I run, little circles around the chair’s highlights. Nowhere, fast, here I come.

But I am no fox; I cannot run. I cannot be what I want to be. I will never be what they want me to be.


where can I hide,


I am a monochrome bird. They have cut off my wings and bound me to this chair. It’s the wrong shape for me; I must change it.

I must be something different now.


Who will I turn to


I won’t remember my secret any more. I had one once; they keep asking me about it. But I will be empty. I am sitting in the dark, new and waiting to unfold.


now I’m in 

a virgin state of mind?


If they keep asking, will they give it back to me? Fill me up with it, stain me all over again? I want to stay monochrome – don’t grey me out and smudge me into the dirt. Keep the filth; I don’t want it.


Got a knife 

to disengage 

the voids that I can’t bear,


No more marks. No more little niggling scars to give away a past. Filthy little histories, washed away in thickening liquid. Pare me down to a bright, new nub and bring me into the light. Let it fall on me again, let it shine through me, the way it used to.


To cut out words 

I’ve got written 

on my chair,


I brush the dirt from my skin and forget it underfoot, and I am clean again. There are no secrets here. There are no answers. This space – this chair – is only big enough for me; my heartbeat fills it up and there is no more than that in me now.


Like: do you think I’m sexy?


Is it better if I’m clean and empty? If I’m polished up for the light, shined and spruced and smiling vacantly? Now I’ve forgotten what I’ve hidden away? Will that make me better? Because I feel something missing, something broken.


Do you think 

I really care?


Does it matter if I’m broken? Does it really matter if my secret breathes in the dark and the dust, crouched there dressed in the pieces of me I pared away? As long as I don’t walk there, as long as I keep my face turned away, I won’t know that I’m missing.


Can I burn 

the mazes I grow?


I’ll walk the way I’m facing, I’ll fill the emptiness with something different and I’ll never know that I’m hollow. I’ll light a candle in me to shine through my smile.


Can I?

I don’t think so.


I’ll cleave to the chair I’ve made and pretend there was never anything else. I will stand tall, even when they question me, void of their answers.


Where can I run to, 

where can I hide,


Don’t look back, never look back. I am new and waiting to unfold, waiting for their light to shine my eyes.


Who will I turn to 

now I’m in 

a virgin state of mind.


Here they come, here they come. I stand and smile and show my teeth. I shine.

I am new and unfolding.


(Lyrics: ‘Virgin State of Mind’ by K’s Choice)

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