The Chair

by Jesse Millner

The neighbors are Labor Day loud now that the rain has driven them in from the golf course. Why must they yell and smoke cigarettes? I avoid everyone on my way to my car or the occasional trip to the dumpster where I see discarded chairs and mattresses piled up next to the trash where a broken-legged brown leather chair speaks clearly to me, its cushions worn and torn, drenched by afternoon rain.

Welcome, new friend, it says. And for a moment I imagine its wet embrace on my butt and back, imagine sitting like a new king among all the discarded things, my mouth open to the rain, trying to drink in the entire sodden sky, to fill my emptiness with clouds, rain, lightning, thunder, until I am a storm myself, vital with the fury of the elemental, until my eyes spark with the kind of light a passerby might mistake for fire, and might call 911 as she worries about garbage burning in the rain.

But I do not sit in the brown chair. I empty my trash and return to the apartment where I’ve been alone for months. The old refrigerator clicks and crackles as the compressor tries to keep up with the demands of milk, eggs, frozen dinners, and the sad Honeycrisp apples that have begun to turn brown in the cold. Occasionally, the broken fridge blares like a foghorn into the empty hours and I feel sometimes like I live on the shore of a mist-covered river as the lights of occasional boats peek through the darkness.

Jesse Millner’s most recent poetry book, “Memory’s Blue Sedan,” was released by Hysterical Books of Tallahassee, Florida, in April 2020. He has a story in Best Small Fictions 2020. Jesse lives in Estero, Florida with his dog, Lucy.