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There is a space across from me. An emptiness. An absence of something. No, not something… someone. An empty chair that sits there accusing me. It says, “you’re not good enough, you’re not worthy, you are damaged, you are less than.” Its silence screams a thousand barbs that I cannot shake, that I cannot banish from my psyche.
I want to shout at it. I want to yell and rage, kick and scream. Fill the space between us with my outrage, my disappointment, my sadness. It just stares back at me, unmoved, unmoving, cold and judgemental.
I try to imagine who else could be perched there - someone famous perhaps. A celebrity whose face everyone would recognise. They’d wonder why such an esteemed person was there with poor, anonymous me. Whisper excitedly as they wait for their overpriced lattes in ridiculous, napkin-wrapped glass. Ring their friends to say, “You won’t guess who I just saw” before taking a sneaky picture with their smartphone to prove the fact. All too soon our table would be crowded with well-wishers and autograph hunters.
The chair hasn’t moved. It remains resolutely unfilled and unimpressed.
Try as I might I can’t conjure a Star because that’s not what I want. Nor do I crave the company of astronauts or politicians; writers or inventors; reality show contestants or models. There’s only one person I wish was sitting there.
They may as well be on the Moon.
Sometimes I think she’s only a manifestation of my imagination. Like those childhood friends we occasionally manufacture in periods of solitude; who come out to play when there is no-one else to occupy our thoughts, our time… our dreams. They represent our most hoped for desires no matter how farfetched and crazy.
Yes, I am crazy. Why did I ever think she could be made real?
I want to yell and scream. But I know I won’t.
I want to slink away and put aside the humiliation and rejection. But I know I can’t.
I want to stay and fight for her. But I don’t know how. The Moon is an awfully long way away. And my mood is heavy and earth-bound.
The space where she should be mocks me. The message on my phone saying she won’t be coming cripples me. The casual glances of pity or disdain from strangers unravels me. I don’t know what to do. I am paralysed by confusion and doubt. And still the chair sits there empty.
I don’t hate you. I could never do that. But nor can I claim to understand you. Not in this moment. Not here and now. Not in front of this fucking chair.
© Richard Hyde, 2012