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One image came into her head. It was a chair in a room with no one sitting in the chair. It was a chair in a room with no one sitting in the chair that had a curved back. The chair had arms that puffed out straight as seams. The room was huge, an attic she used to play in, an attic with a bathtub that had feet. The plumbing of the bathtub was exposed. The stairway was narrow. The ceiling spread into landscapes of streets and divides. One image came into her head. It was a door made of paneled wood. She was in a supermarket. The supermarket was closing. Everyone got lost. One image came into her head. It was a lake that was far down below her. It was a lake that was far down below her that gleamed in the sun. A road went around the lake. A house above the road had people in it. The people were criminals looking for a hiding place. One man had a gun. A group of children were being kidnapped. Everyone went shopping. One image came into her head. It was a plate on a table. The plate on the table had a blue ring around it. The table was long and narrow. There were chairs around the table. The chairs around the table had tall wooden backs. The seats of the chairs were made of fabric. There were metal studs on the edges of the fabric on the chairs. The metal studs went around the edges of the fabric on the chairs in a pattern. The middle of the seats of the fabric on the chairs sunk in like chests. The cloth inside the fabric of the middle of the seats on the chairs was exposed. There was cotton inside the exposed fabric of the chairs.

Even as she drove into the flow of traffic the dream was rushing past in the opposite direction, causing her to fall into a pattern of habitual responses. It was something that followed her everywhere she went, this sense of being put off the path that could get her to an exact destination. She imagined a medieval scribe bending over his work back then, moving his pen inch by inch along the ruddy page, stopping at precise, selected intervals to see if he had left anything out. It was, as if, by imagining this holy act of care, this act of careful checking, she could isolate the sign she never once could wholly frame within her scope of vision.

Realizing too late how this incessant planning would eventually take its toll, she held on with all her might making sure that anything particular in her was wiped out before it had finished happening. She saw each premature departure written in the sky like handwriting whenever she looked up and wondered how her belief could fall away in such evenly spaced increments. It wasn’t only swallowed, taken down, and mutely witnessed, her not believing, but also visceral and filled with stretched tension like her mother’s small and birdlike torso, thin enough to where the snow white skin outlined the slender compactness of bone, revealing a strict internal structure built in accordance with its own law of keeping out, so that upon approach she always felt herself to be a kind of reluctant poacher. She thought she must have out weighed her mother by a huge amount when she was born. She thought her heaviness must have been a shock, or something incompatible with holding, and that was why she could never be lifted up all at once in her entire body, in her complete, enclosed casing.



chair story


claudia ryan