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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sellout (05/26/11)

TITLE: Janey's chair.
By Danielle King
05/29/11


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That’s Janey’s chair

did you not see her, resting by the window
when you passed by in your smart suit and polished brogues
clutching a folder of words to make plans on crisp sheets of white paper, sterile
written in the language of progress, advancement, going forward
to where?

don’t look back now
don’t ever look back now
did you really not see her that day?

then what did you see in the chair by the window
in the lounge that was filled with
unintelligible mumbling and wailing, and pungent odour of bodily fluids
mingled with lavender and citrus to neutralise

was it
a nonentity, clothed in polyester and trycel with velcro
to aid absent minded fingers do the simplest tasks, or maybe you saw
a stereotype of encumbrance, impaired, debasing
a hindrance to your words, your learned words that fall easily from pre-programmed lips
the words of today

move forward
keep moving forward

from
a pointless existence that drains resources and occupies space, precious space
speculative money making space

or
did you spare a moment to stop by the chair
to look at the picture on the shelf depicting
the freshness of youth, captivating innocence in love with life and
did you ask the question, as others have done

“Your daughter? how beautiful she is”

did you wait to hear the answer whispered
hesitantly, falteringly
did you spend just a moment to care and to listen

“I have no daughter but that was me once
I too was young and healthy and inside this outer packaging that repels
I haven’t changed at all but
you don’t see me
do you?”

did you listen
did you really listen, with your heart or did you pass by with fingers in ears and deadline in mind in the name of advancement, growth, development
going forward

your progress
not hers
all yours

what will she do now when in your hands her fate lies
as you chase bigger, more prosperous ventures, accumulators of wealth
what will become of her room, her comfort, her sanctuary, all that she’s known

rubble, her world will become rubble
friends scattered, memories shredded
this is the way forward isn’t it; economic sense, progress

do you know how she feels
do you really know how she feels
do you care?

an encumbrance, inept, ineffectual; an obstacle to overcome
frail vulnerability forced to relinquish the last strand of dignity
to you
young men donned in collar and tie, educated, smart; wearing smiles fashioned in plastic, disingenuous, disposable with cold hearts of stone

progressing
moving forward
always moving forward

the day has arrived
wrapped in blankets and waiting by the door, clutches black plastic bag containing her worldly goods, the sum of all her possessions and
little pieces of her heart, fragmented

she waits bewildered, frightened
the little nurse weeps and hugs her tight and coos soothing words

“I’ll think of you always
and visit often the place where they take you
the place far away”

Janey smiles faintly
and knows the girls heart well
the girl who’s cared for so long now
as close as the daughter she never had
and replies

“I can’t do this
it’s too much for me
it’s all just too much for me”

the little nurse watches the van hit the road to the place far away and
Janey resigned to her fate that day
found the strength to pull from her pocket a handkerchief, large and by the corners loosely knotted
and asks for a drink, cold water to quench the thirst
and resolutely picks at the knot in the large handkerchief
so its contents may fall on her lap
and then
the deed done
lies back to savour the sweet joy of contentment, knowing the man in the suit and the collar and tie
has pushed out his boats a little too far

and the little nurse sniffles and dabs at her eyes while retracing her patients last steps and
holding a flower
just one
freshly picked
places it gently
on the chair by the window

Janey’s chair.



In 1818 the first, ‘County paupers lunatic asylum,’ was built in the North of England. Many women spent their entire lives there, locked away in shame simply for having babies out of wedlock. In 1995 the last patient was moved out into the wider community and the listed buildings were sold out to contractors who converted them into luxury apartment blocks.


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This article has been read 356 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leola Ogle 06/02/11
Sad, riveting tale. Well written, nicely done. It will linger in my mind! God bless!
Linda Goergen06/02/11
Powerful, visual, gripping even without the footnote…
the footnote then, adds another layer of chill to an already mournful tale.
I agree with Leola, a memorable piece!
Kelvin Fowler06/05/11
Yeah I liked it too, kept me glued to the screen. Sad and sorrowful lovely piece.

Well done.

Cheers Kel
Noel Mitaxa 06/06/11
A very moving account of the forgotten people of our world. I love the poignancy of how you revealed who the beautiful daughter really was.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/09/11
Wow what a powerful and an oh so sad story. I cant even imagine such a thing.
Congratulations for ranking 8th in level 3!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/09/11
Oops I meant congratulations on ranking 7th not 8th!
Kim Hamlin06/13/11
sad and moving Danielle, great job on writing this. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sad pieces are not always the easiest for me, you did wonderful work!
Beth Muehlhausen07/19/11
WOW!! I mean, WOWWWWW! This is an amazing piece. I can't think of the right adjective...unique...powerful...gripping...WOW! Great job. :-)