the empty armchair

Matisse1My story, “The Empty Armchair,” which is loosely based on my first novel, The Painting Story, appears in the fall issue of Contrary Magazine. Here’s the beginning:

Being sick has taken away the busy surface of my life.  Gone are the errands and the superficial, the insubstantial, the time-wasting.  Being still is forcing me to reflect on what remains.

Boil a life down to its essence.  Freeze it, and see what rises.

Tucked into bed, my body is at rest, but my eyes search the room, settling on the blue armchair.  Exhausted for weeks, I had been leaving my clothes on this chair instead of hanging them in the closet.  The night before the surgery, seeking order and control as I contemplated having neither, I sorted through the layers of discarded clothing—returning shirts and jeans to the closet, socks to the hamper.  Now as I look at the space instead of the pile, I remember keeping the chair clear because Mark liked to sit there.  With sudden clarity I see myself as Matisse’s Invalid, without a face and with only heavy, somber colors to define my existence, lying in a room where an empty armchair reminds me of the choices I’ve made.

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12 thoughts on “the empty armchair

    • Thank you, Darrelyn. I’m so glad the Matisse sections worked for you. I wrote the novel first and then the story, and during the process I fell in love with Matisse–his painting and his writing. Both seemed to have so much to say about life.


  1. What a great novel (nouvelle). You certainly have the talent to bring us into the story. Your protagonist have a goal and she had achieved it! Knowing she is still vulnérable at the moment of the story, we following her evolution to the turning point:Be herself.

    No matter what should happen (empty), she decided to live her life. A portrait that nobody else should do except her.

    I have enjoy the way you uses metaphores to illustrate the choices of both characters. The empty
    armchair, the omniprésence of Matisse as a confident in is choice are simply beautiful.

    Brievety of the novel, dialogues, intensity, passion, everything is marvelous.

    The colors of your writing are fabulous!

    Thanks you!


  2. Jennifer-Thanks!

    Mireille-Thank you for taking the time to list all the things you liked about the story. I appreciate it.

    Sarah-Thank you for reading and checking on the autobiographical aspect of the story. Happy to say it was all imagined.

    Tess-So nice to hear from you. I’m glad you liked the story and thanks for posting the link. I hope you’ll be back.

    And thanks for all the nice emails about the story as well!


  3. Pingback: it’s been another year | catching days

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