The Chair by Michelle Elvy

“It’s time to move the chair,” said Grandma matter-of-factly. I knew what she meant: time to put the old green easy-chair on the curb, the one with the saggy seat and fraying arms, the one which smelled of oil and sweat and Old Spice and also old age and even faintly of forbidden cigarette smoke. I knew it was time to take it away but dreaded it. That chair had been Grandpa’s favorite. I came home from school every day and found him sitting in his chair. After short happy days at primary school, I would climb into his lap and read him books about farm animals. In later years, I scratched my homework notes sitting cross-legged at the coffee table while he concentrated on crosswords. “Maisy, what’s the world’s tallest building?” he might ask. The Chair was as constant in my life as Grandpa. Prom dates were cross-examined, college friends were greeted from The Chair, occasionally asked, “seven-letter word for hairy?” Once I was lectured about smoking from The Chair, but I knew Grandpa occasionally snuck outside to grab a Pall Mall – I’d discovered his pack hidden in the coffee table drawer way back during my algebra years.

In the end, the hospital trips were dreadful, the funeral was bitter. But removing the green chair was my least favorite task. I rescued Grandpa’s last pack of Pall Malls from the coffee table drawer, half-carried and half-pushed the chair across the lawn, and chain-smoked his cigarettes ’til dark.

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14 Comments

Filed under Michelle Elvy

14 responses to “The Chair by Michelle Elvy

  1. Al McDermid

    You have a real knack for just the right amount of tenderness, for avoiding the saccharine.

  2. The chair functions as a character in this story, an alter-ego for the beloved Grampa. This was sweet without being sappy. I liked the straightforward simplicity and the way it resolved.

  3. Keep the chair, baby, keep the chair. I loved this story, very “you are there” all the way through.

  4. You’ve hit straight to the heart on this, Michelle. The grief and the rebellion of both characters–one gone, one carrying on–was clear and touching.

  5. Randal Houle

    I loved the memory attached to the Chair, that the image was held throughout and only at the end married to the theme. Nicely done.

  6. Quenby Larsen

    This was really nice, and a really nice ending. There were lots of layers here for such a short piece: the grandma’s matter-of-fact attitude vs the narrator’s different perspective on things, how the end was compared to the rest, grandpa’s secret staff of cigs, his secret self and her participation in it. Lovely.

  7. I love how it’s ‘The Chair’ through the story, the emphasis on the memories associated it. The chain smoking in the end was the perfect touch.

  8. Moving story! I liked how you used the chair to link the two characters and describe their relationship.

  9. Walter

    Good one, Michelle, told so simply straightforward, letting the scene set the relationship, the description of the chair create the melancholy, and the end provide whatever relief there can be.

  10. Thanks so much – this theme brought out such good variety in all of our writing. Here’s to 27 more… :)

  11. i just read it again. so moving, and so much included in this flash. a life story, wrapped around a green chair. thanks for this.

  12. Somehow you’ve managed to make the chair as much a living, breathing character as the narrator. Lovely, evocative story which shredded my heart. Peace…

  13. Pingback: Week #25 – least favorite « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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