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The Chair (Chap: 1-2) (standard:science fiction, 2999 words)
Author: CyranoAdded: Feb 23 2012Views/Reads: 3139/748Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Tom Schofield is grieving the loss of his wife, a best selling author. He moves around the house, perpetually mumbling to himself and, he believes, is on the edge of insanity.
 



My father wakes most mornings with nothing but a blank space for a
brain.  After a shower, wearing shorts and ‘t' shirt, he'll wander 
around the home; collect the paper off the drive, read a line or two 
about Mr. Obama's strategy to get re-elected before throwing it loftily 
toward the bench on the white fenced porch, then move through the house 
some more. At age sixty his hair, what there is left of it, is 
whitening; a whiteness that also characterizes his neatly trimmed, once 
red, beard. On the walls of the home hang many paintings remembered 
from his childhood, mostly those last ones his mother painted before 
she succumbed to a long illness, and which now hang alongside 
photographs of his own children and grandchildren. It is a strangely 
beautiful house that I was fortunate to grow up in, filled with all 
kinds of treasured absurdities collected from our travels, or from the 
beach below the house, and among modern conveniences: computer, 
printer, scanner, and other tragedies of technology. 

Fingering the bookshelf through months of dust he selects a book at
random, blows off the spine and looks at it, lingering, caressing his 
fingers over the author's name embossed in gold. Katherine Schofield, 
my mother, was a woman who had seen her work sold and acclaimed all 
over the world and now Dad handles the book as though it was a first 
born, and the first let go into the world. He pushes it gently back 
into its place alongside others, tapping it a couple of times. He had 
never really understood my mother's creative spirit; always content 
just to let her be who she was. The once routine of making her that 
first cup of tea, the one he would make at dawn and sit down at the 
side of her computer while she would think about the characters she was 
about to give life to; characters that down all the years had found a 
place, not only in his heart, but the minds and hearts of her admiring 
public. The mouse hasn't been moved in almost a year. 

Night after night, week after week, and month after month he has tossed
and turned in his bed. My mother had been so articulate, so expressive 
and funny. Her friends were the same, Dad recalled, not having seen 
them since the funeral. There had been phone calls, mostly ignored, 
letters of sympathy from those who found out later, some of which 
remain unopened and lying on the table. Yes, her friends were 
extraordinary people, most of whom my father wouldn't normally give the 
time of day to but he understood mother's need for that kind of 
artistic interaction. She once told me of their meeting many years ago 
and about the weeks that followed. All the uncertainty he felt as to 
why such a beautiful woman, and she was surely that, would find his 
ordinariness so attractive, and recalled him asking her that very 
question. She, to the contrary, smiling widely as she told me the 
story, simply allowed him to think of himself as normal. She let him 
ponder that question for many months before she finally insisted he 
marry her. He wasn't a man of words, and he wanted to say something 
honest, in the best way he knew how, something to make her know and 
feel what he already knew and felt, how his love for her went as far as 
the ocean went. And of course she knew all that. But what he actually 
said was: Just tell me what to do next. 

The pitter-patter continues as fog keeps condensing on the pane, though
the heavy gray mist has drifted offshore by the time I've made 
breakfast. Dad looks at it, an omelette, and shoves it aside. 

So this is where my father is at, eleven months after my mother was
killed by a seventeen year old boy talking on his cell phone. I come by 
the place once during the week, early if I can, to say hi, make a 
cooked breakfast, and check everything is okay. 

“You should eat that, Dad. I know you don't start off with a cooked
breakfast any other day of the week.” 

“I don't eat breakfast.” He says, putting both hands on the table and
pushing himself up. I could feel the awkwardness, the scared tumble of 
his heartbeat. 

“Mum always made you breakfast after doing a couple of hours in the
study?” 

“Well, your mother isn't here.” He snaps back, the words sounding like
an emotional short hand. 

“No, Dad, she isn't here. We are.” 


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