From Behind the Orange Chair

From Behind the Orange Chair


Back Camera

It was the most God-awful thing, that plush orange chair.  It sat in the corner of our apartment and on rainy days it made a pretty decent fort, albeit a small one.  The velvet on the buttons had worn thin in places, maybe from the repeated rubbings of a small, sticky finger, but the color was like none other.  Halloween pumpkin orange, the chair was a product of the garish 70s.  The chair stood alone, something missing in its aesthetic.  It wasn’t until my college years that I realized what was gone. During my parents’ divorce the ottoman had been severed from the old chair, and like us would never be whole again.

The half-chair and I were kindred spirits, both of us demanded attention and sat stubbornly in place until we got it.  I don’t know what preceded my tantrum, but on a chore-ridden Saturday afternoon I yelled and screamed that I was going to run away.  I told them they would miss me, they would!  I slammed the front (actually the only) door and hid behind that orange chair.  It was supposed to be a test.  Would they miss me?  Who would come looking?  I giggled to myself as I heard my mother and brother scrambling around the apartment calling for me.  I remember laughing as I fell asleep.

When I woke, the sky outside was dark and my knees throbbed for oxygen.  At first, I didn’t understand what I was hearing and then I peeked out from behind the orange chair to see my mother, face in her hands, crying.  She was saying something, not a prayer because she’d tossed the church aside with my father, but uttering a desperate wish.  “Come back, Jennifer,” she whispered.  I never meant to hurt her.  My stupid, juvenile stunt had made her cry.  I crawled out from behind the orange chair and as her arms folded around me, hard and angry and soft and welcoming at the same time, I vowed to never hide behind that chair again.

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