FICTION: The Chair

“Sometimes it’s best not to dwell on things.”

“That’s what you think?”

She shrugs, twisting at a thread come loose on her knee length denim skirt. Out of fashion even on her skinny, models frame.

“That’s what I feel.”

“Feel?”

She looks at him with wary brown eyes that buckle underneath revealing wrinkles too deep for the DOB on the form.

“What?”

“That’s what you feel…sounds instinctual.” 

“Dunno what you mean.” She sniffs, eyes rolling to the window between them, it is grey outside and the light does nothing for the pallor of her skin.

“I mean you sound like you haven’t given it much thought.”

“Perhaps I haven’t.”

He nods as though she now makes sense to him.

He flicks the sheet of paper over, expecting more before turning it back. 

“What is this about Miss-?”

“Marie. Just call me Marie.” She says, her eyes wide on him as she tips back her chair nonchalantly, then snaps it back to the floor.

“What’s this about, Marie?”

“I’ve been asked to pass on a message.”

He sighs, shuffles in his seat, “go on…Marie.”

“It’s about your mother.”

He takes a sharp breath and sits forward slightly, “Marie, I can arrest you for wasting police time…”

“Wasting?”

“Yes. Now whats this about? It’s clearly not about my mother.”

“It is, she sent me.”

He looks down at the sheet, is her information correct, is she mentally unstable? He looks at her and purses his lips.

“Perhaps you should speak to someone else.”

“Why? She’s your mother.”

“Someone who can help.”

“With what?”

“Whatever this is.” He waves an arm towards her spindly, dishevelled frame.

She wipes her nose with her sleeve and shakes her head. 

“You’re her son.”

“My mother is dead, Marie.” His voice whistles through his teeth and for a moment he looks angry, then he slumps back in the seat, looks back towards the door.

“Not that one, sir. The other one.”

“What?”

“Your other mother.”

“Do you have any crime to report?” He demands

“No, but…”

“Then it’s time for you to leave Miss-”

“Marie.”

“Marie, it’s time for you to go or I’ll have to hold you for wasting police time.”

“But she wants to meet you and she’s not well and she can’t get to you and she wants to explain.”

He stands up, “My mother died several months ago. If you have no crime to report, then you can leave.”

The young woman stands up, wraps her old lady coat over her arm and nods, shoulders rolling forward into a slump, head bowed.

“I’ve failed her.”

“Come along, Marie.” His voice is softer now, the one he reserves for young offenders and the type of criminal too stupid to know any better.

“She sent me cause I’m all she’s got. She used to let me help her bake while me mum was arguing with her bloke. Used to sit at the kitchen table and peel apples to go in the cake, mix everything up with wooden spoon.”

He puts a hand in the centre of her shoulder blades and guides her to the door.

“She’s lovely you know. She never wanted to give you up but her husband didn’t want babies and she couldn’t have coped on her own. She just wants to see you before she goes.”

He pushes her out into reception, nods to Geoff behind the desk and heads back into the bowels of the station. She is still talking, her accent heavier as her voice grows louder and more desperate. As the metal door clangs shut behind him her voice grows muffled and distant. He goes back to the room and sits down at the desk, facing the empty chair where Marie had sat. He stairs at the hairy blue chair and thinks about her sharp cheekbones and pasty skin, the constellation of blackheads on her chin. He closes his eyes and tries to remember back to any clue. Was it possible? Could it be true? His mum was his mother and his mother was his mum. Right?

He opens his eyes, shakes his head and then picks up the sheet of paper. He has added no additional notes. In a moment he has shredded the paper into snow.

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