The Arm Chair


The room was empty and the morning quiet and dark. The big man saunters into the room, flipping a switch at the doorway, illuminating light from a floor lamp. He is shuffling with floppy things on his feet as he holds a hot cup of liquid in one hand and a newspaper in the other hand. He settles his backside into the comfort of my cushions, setting the cup of liquid on my arm and shifts around a little until he feels relaxed. He pulls the stool close with one foot and crosses his feet on the edge. As he frequently slurps from the cup, he rustles the newspaper as he flips from page to page. It is like this every morning. Occasionally hot liquid from the cup will slop onto my arm as he sets it back, and there is a brown stain where this has happened over and over again. The aroma from the cup is strong and sharp. Once the cup is empty, the man gets up, drops the paper on my cushion and leaves the room.

A few minutes later a small child comes running into the room and leaps into the center of my cushion. Her pig tails are bouncing and her small feet sink into the crevices of where my cushion meets my arm. She pushes the paper aside with one foot as she holds a contraption in one hand aimed at a box across the room. A few seconds later, the box comes alive with singing and colored pictures dance across the screen. She hops up and down on my cushion and sings along with the music. In a moment a tall woman comes into the room with a container in her hand. She holds it out to the little girl and says, “Be careful and don’t slop it.” With one last jump into the air the little girl lands smack into the center of my cushion. She accepts the bowl from the woman and begins to use a utensil to put whatever is in the bowl into her mouth. The woman leaves the room and the little girl tosses the spoon onto the stool, which falls off and lands next to the crumpled newspaper. She uses both hands to tip the bowl up to her mouth and cool liquid with small particles land on my cushion congealing around her tiny legs. She gets excited with what is happening on the box across the room and begins to bounce causing more liquid and pieces from the bowl to land on my cushion. A few minutes later the sound of the tall woman, calls into the room, “C’mon time to get ready for the bus!” At once the little girl sets the bowl on my arm and leaps off my cushion across the room.

This is the worst part of the morning. Here she comes. She is big and furry and mean. She stretches and the long tail reaches out at least as long as my arm. She appears to be bowing to me but I know different… she is just getting ready. Suddenly it begins; claws in, claws out, claws in, and claws out. My leg is torn up from this mean animal that comes in every morning to get her manicure. If a chair could bleed, my leg would be bleeding. Then I hear him. That familiar bark from outside the room and here he comes pouncing in after her. She, the cat, quickly runs under my leg and under my cushion to safety. The dog starts lapping up the dripped liquid and eats the particles of food that dropped from the little girls bowl. Then he sniffs where the cat was, lifts his leg and a warm liquid soothes the spot where the cat was clawing. Seconds later it’s the woman again, this time in an angry voice. “Stop it, you bad dog!”

Then the antiseptic comes; she squirts this cold astringent liquid where the cat dug and the dog peed and she scrubs. She scrubs hard and she scrubs harder while she talks to me. She says things like, “Stupid dog, pee on the chair,” and while she is talking the cat sneaks out from under my cushion and scares her and then she yells at the cat, “If you would stop clawing this leg on the chair, maybe the dumb dog wouldn’t pee on it.” The cat sits up on the stool and yawns, as if to say, “Whatever”.

The woman picks up the contraption and points it at the box across the room and in a moment it is silent. She grabs the bowl, the antiseptic spray and the sponge she scrubbed with and flicks the light switch as she leaves the room. Darkness and silence again. Instantly I feel the pushing and pulling of small feet on my cushion. It is the cat, but this time in a gentler fashion; pushes in, pull out, push in, and pull out. Then she circles and curls up into a ball. As she dozes off into fairy tale land, I find myself dozing as well.

How many hours go by? Suddenly the switch on the wall is flicked on and light illuminates the room. This time an older woman holding on to something that moves as she walks slowly across the floor. She makes her way over to the box and pushes a button on it and then pushes another button until people are talking back and forth. She rolls that walking apparatus over to where the stool is and pushes that out of the way so that she is able to back up to my cushion where she plops her butt down. She has a bag hanging on the walking machine and she pulls a ball of string from it and two long needle type utensils. She puts the two together with the string and moves her hands and fingers with the utensils creating a woven piece of garment. This goes on for what seems like hours until she nods off and her head is resting on my arm and the utensils fall out of her hands. The cat appears and commences to bat at the ball of string. It rolls here and there and across the floor. Suddenly the older woman pops her head up and sees the ball of string unraveling all across the floor. “Oh dear,” she says, “You’re a bad kitty.” She tries to locate the two needle-like utensils, but she can only find one because the other has fallen deep into the crevices of my cushions. She struggles to get up, holding on to the walking mechanism as she does so. Like it was planned, the tall woman enters the room and says, “You need some help, Miss Ella?” She picks up the ball of string the cat is still batting around, and pushes at the cat’s belly, which rolls over and leaps out of the way. “Looks like you and kitty were having a tug of war here.” The older woman nods her head, takes the ball of string from the tall woman and places it in the bag. “I think it’s time for some lunch,” as she pushes on the walking machine and heads for the door. Again, the box is quieted and the switch on the wall makes everything dark. A few minutes later the cat is back getting comfortable again amongst my cushions.

I must have dozed off because I am startled when the room lights up. This time it is a much older girl with one pony tail and a young boy with things poking out of the side of his head. He plunks down almost sitting on the cat which makes a loud meow before leaping off the back of me and out the doorway into another room. The boy grabs the contraption and on comes the box. This time it is not fun colored pictures or happy music or people talking to each other. It is dark and eerie sounds coming from the box. The boy has another contraption that he holds with both hands pushing different buttons, which seem to coincide with the box across the room. Suddenly the boy slaps my arm and throws the equipment he was holding down on the floor. “Stupid game!” he gets up and heads toward the door. “I’m getting a snack, don’t take my spot and don’t touch my game!”

The girl is holding another device up to her head and talking into it. She is flipping through something that appears to be a newspaper but is smaller and covered with something hard and colored. She is putting a utensil to another paper book type thing and making marks on it. She looks up at the boy and nods her head, and as he leaves the room, she sticks her tongue out at him and rolls her eyes. She grabs the contraption from the stool, aims it at the box across the room and in a few seconds there are boys and girls on the box that appear to be the same age as the girl. They are laughing and talking and she is still talking into the object that she is holding up to her head.

A few minutes later the little girl with the pig tails comes into the room, this time with a pack on her back, and papers in her hand. She kicks off her shoes and jumps on to my cushion, dropping the papers on the floor and pulling the pack off her back. She is opening the bag when the boy comes back into the room. He points to the little girl and says “Out of my chair!” The little girl looks up and in a little voice says, “I was here first.” The boy is holding something in one hand that he appears to be eating, and with the other hand he grabs one of the little girls pig tails, and says, “No, you were not!” He drags her by the pig tail off my cushion. She begins to scream. Running in comes the dog, barking and jumping at the boy. The boy holds out his foot as the dog jumps at it. He stuffs whatever he had in his hand all the way in his mouth, and gives the little girl a push out of the way. “I was here first,” and he looks over at the other girl and says, “What did you do to my game?” She is still talking into the gadget held up to her head, and she shrugs her shoulders and rolls her eyes. The little girl picks up her bag and pulls something from it which she gives to the dog. He eats while wagging his tail.

The boy plunks down on the floor and leans against my legs where the cat clawed, the dog peed and the woman scrubbed. In a few minutes the dog is jumping into the center of my cushions and like the cat, twirling in a circle before lying down. The little girl in pig tails is playing with dolls from the bag on her back, the older girl is still talking into the contraption and the boy is pushing buttons which is controlling the box across the room again with the eerie sounds and dark pictures.

Not long after that, the big man enters the room and thumbs for the boy to get up away from me. Then he yells, “What is that dog doing in my chair?” The dog makes a quick leap off my arm and out of the way. “Get that out of your ear now, and finish your homework,” the man points to the older girl. She raises her finger, and he shakes his head. She takes the apparatus from her head and sets it on the stool. This time when the burly man makes his backside comfortable on my cushions he has a glass with cold liquid and cubes that clink together. As he sets it on my arm where the brown stain is, I can feel the coolness of the glass. Soon there will be a wet spot there from the condensation of the glass. He settles in, with the box controlling contraption and commences to push buttons. The box changes from bright colored animations to animals to people talking to lots of people in the same uniforms running around a field chasing what appears to be the same thing the cat was chasing earlier. He says to the little girl in pig tails, “What did you learn in school today?” She gathers up the papers on the floor and hands them to him in a wad.

Soon the tall woman is peaking into the room and saying, “Dinner is ready!” Like the dog getting out of the chair when the man yelled, everyone rushes to the door and out. The box is still full of people talking and the light is still on. Soon the dog is on my cushion and the cat is on my back. They remain this way until the family makes their way back into the room. The burly man snaps his fingers and the cat and the dog disappear. As everyone gets comfortable, the smell of popped corn is seeping from the bowl that is placed on the stool in front of me. There is much laughing and talking and some silence as the night goes on. One by one, little pig tail girl first and burly man last make their way out of the room. After they are gone and only the tall woman is left, she picks up what is left of the popped corn and eases into the warm confinement of my cushions, kicks her feet up on the stool and pushes a button on the contraption. The box goes black. She sits for a few brief moments and then reaches behind her backside and pulls the needle like utensil from out of the crevice of my cushions. She giggles and shakes her head as she gets up to tidy the room, picking up all of the routine items that were left behind. As she leaves the room, arms full, she looks at me, shakes her head a little, grins and shuts off the light.


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