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“It is plain,” he said, “that you’re groping in the dark. You really have no idea what you’re doing.”

“That’s obvious?” I asked

“As plain as the nose on my face.”

“But you don’t have a face,” I pointed out carefully. You never could tell when he would take offense. He didn’t.

“As the nose on your face, then. It is as plain as the nose on your face that you have no idea what you are doing.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond to this. Chairs are so temperamental and often oblique. If you’ve ever gotten up on the wrong side of a bed, you might sympathize. And let me be clear. When they said I had to talk to the chair, I didn’t expect him to be, well, a chair. But that’s the way things go around here.

Questions, I decided, were the safest route. You rarely went wrong answering a question with a question. “Am I meant to know what I’m doing?” I asked.

“Absolutely not!” he exclaimed with great excitement. “That’s the beauty of it. If you don’t know, you can’t blow it. You can’t get it wrong. It’s a perfect system, you see.”

“So it’s okay that I have no idea…”

“It’s perfection,” he announced. I even thought I heard a trace of pride or admiration in his voice. “You’re exactly where you should be.”

“Which is…?”

“Which is nowhere at all. You can go absolutely anywhere from here.”

There was something very Alice about this conversation. I half expected a rabbit to run through or the room to start growing, but no, it was just me and a chair and what seemed to be a very serious area rug taking note of the conversation.

“Is there someplace I’m meant to go?” Questions still felt like my best defense.


“And where am I meant to go?”

“Why, wherever you end up.”

“And how will I know I’ve arrived?”

“Because that’s where you’ll be.”

The logic was making me dizzy, and I very much wanted to sit down. But I couldn’t very well sit on a chair that was talking to me, nor could I sit on the floor, in case the chair took offense. So I leaned casually against the wall, desperately trying to remember who had suggested that I come here, and why it had seemed like such a good idea at the time.

© Deborah Edler Brown 2011