Contemporary Sad Drama

“The plum chair… don’t sit in it.” Howard scolds the uniformed young woman. 

The woman looks at him, her eyes glassy, she nods and smiles. 

Light slips through the tilted blinds sailing onto Howard’s lap. His dark chair absorbing the light around it.

“And… what are you doing?” Howards eyes follow the busy figure as she takes a duster through his forgotten shelves.

She turns to face him, her slender being leans forward. Her lips form each syllable, “I’m cleaning up.”

Howard’s eyebrows scrunch together. His mouth purses. His hands rub the arms of the chair mechanically.

“You have such beautiful pictures up here,” her soft voice echoes around the stale air.

“Pictures?” The word swells in his mind. Quickly floating away.

“Yes, can you tell me about this one?” The woman grabs a shining frame from the wooden hutch. Her footsteps echo on the wooden floor.

She gently hands it to Howard.

He inhales, thinking, thinking, thinking.

“Who is here?” His hands tremble as he holds the small rectangular object in his lap. There are two pretty girls in it. They’re young, still have pigtails. The one on the right is frowning. The one on the left is caught mid laugh. A grassy field lines for miles behind them. The color seems distorted, like something happened to the roll of film.

The woman chuckles softly and points to the girl on the right, “that’s Mary,” her finger moves onto the girl on the left, tapping softly, “and that’s Ella.”

Howard’s transparent lips curve to reveal a large grin. His yellowed teeth shine, “I know Ella.” He begins to laugh, but it is cut short with a worried glance.

“Where is Ella?” Howard twists his neck, scanning the small living room for any sign of his precious Ella. The gloomy living room holds only furniture, sadly, no glimpse of her.

The young woman emits a small breath, “Ella is okay.” She takes his thin crumpling hand in hers. The young woman looks into his empty eyes.

“I like Ella… when will she be back?” Howard stares vacantly. He stresses his forehead and scrunches his bubbling nose, adding to his web of wrinkles.

The uniformed woman clears her throat, “soon.” 

The woman turns back to her work. Howard is left with the frame, admiring the beauty and fullness of the picture. 

A flash of images fill his hollow mind. 

The loudness of Mary, always crying for a bottle. The softness of Ella, whispering since she was born. 

The crib. Building the crib in that lonely apartment building waiting for them to come. Waiting for it to be filled with something incredible.

He opens his eyes, the sun still peers through the dimmed blinds covering the thin window.

The uniformed woman is now touching something in Howard’s arm. A tube sticks loosely to him stemming from some sort of gadget. It resembles a hat stand in some sense. The stand is a few feet away from the plum chair. 

Howard gazes as the chair gently welcomes his weariness…

Something is missing.

“Howard, may I see the frame?” 

Howard blinks, the young woman suddenly appears in front of him, trying to take the small object from his grasp. He nods slowly. The woman’s face strains to keep her undying smile as she tugs the frame from his hands.

“I thought you left,” He speaks into the air. His head gradually curves towards the woman. He feels fuzzy, a normal occurrence at this point.

She seems genuinely tickled by this statement. Her peach flavored laugh bounces around the room. “I don’t have anywhere else to go but here.”

Howard let’s out a strong laugh which evolves into a cough.

Something is missing…

He halts his coughing suddenly, “don’t sit in the plum chair,” He scolds her. 

She smiles and nods as she paces the room sweeping. She grabs another frame from the shelf and lowers it to Howard. Her eyes filled with light.

“Huh? Who…?” His eyes focus on the beautiful woman in the photo. She is standing in front of the Pacific, leaning against the rail of a ship, “Janey.” Howard’s vacant eyes swell. His skin notices the soft fabric that surrounds him. His breath shallows.

“Yes, that’s Janey,” The young woman says. Her eyes glass as she lowers her head. 

Howard smiles once more, tears filling his creased skin. 

“I love Janey!” He shouts to the quiet room.

The woman nods. Her lips quiver, her eyes close slowly.

Howard inhales, thinking, thinking, thinking of his Janey.

The images of another life intrude his vacant mind, holding on to their beauty.

Janey. She was soft. The curve of her skin, her chestnut hair, her gentle eyes. She was the sun, warm, needed, loving.

The stove. The stove was broken, there was not enough in the bank. She roasted dinner over a bonfire in the backyard day after day. Her skin smelled of those warm flames. Her eyes crinkled while she laughed. Her lips glided along her teeth making room for her grand smile. She made it fun. She made life happy.

Howard opened his eyes, the sun had begun to set outside the window. His eyes wandered beside him, to the bare plum chair. His cheeks became hot, panic set into his void being.

“Janey!” he yelled. His head shaking, his vision swaying.

The young woman ushered towards him quickly. She crouched down beside him, the floor giving a small groan. She held his hand.

Howard saw her figure through his disarray, “Janey?”

The woman opened her mouth, releasing a small cry. The chaos crescendoing.

Howard gripped her hand, “Janey, it’s okay we can fix it. We can fix it. It’ll be okay.”

His muddled mind sobbed for his innocence.

“Janey, don’t leave me,” His face was beet red, tears and snot suffocated his skin. His eyes stayed focused on the plum chair. 

He released the soft woman’s hand. Receiving a small moment of stillness. The woman remained on the floor, motionless.

“Don’t sit on the plum chair!” He shouts repeatedly. 

Another life floats in again. 

The chair. It held her soft body every day. She chose that spot so she could look out the window. Absorb the light. She curled up in it with her books. Until one day there was no Janey. 

That’s what was missing. His Janey. 

The memories float away again, frustrated, he is left silent. Tears still forming. Staring at the warm embrace of the plum chair. 

He inhales deeply. Calmly.

“Ella, I miss Mom.” The words are not thought, just spoken, from another life living inside of Howard. Choking on each sound. His voice is low, filled with grief. His body motionless in his chair.

Labored breathe is the only sound. Accompanied by enduring grief.

“I miss her too, Dad,” the woman whispers from the floor. She hugs her legs allowing the tears to roll down her cheeks. Resting her head in his hand.

Peace returns to the sad room.

The plum chair sits in the light of the resting sun. Staring at the two of them. Missing something. While simultaneously filling the small room with memories long forgotten of warmth and love. 

August 25, 2021 21:34

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Graham Kinross
08:57 Nov 26, 2021

That was heartbreaking but wonderfully written. Losing the love of your life is a terrifying prospect for anyone. You captured it really well.


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Ananya Voss
22:08 Aug 25, 2021

Wow! That is so beautiful and poignant. You capture the subtleties of their feelings even though they are as delicate as gossamer. Great writing.


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