Snapshot

Going Creative: A Very Short Story

By Sofia Banzhoff

The old man sat in the armchair his son had bought at Ikea to replace the other one, the old and beloved one. The one his grandfather had sat on, when he, a little boy back then, would climb on his knees and ask for candy. Those big comforting knees he’d sat on when that old man, now long dead, had laughed loudly and contagiously.

But neither his grandfather, nor the armchair had survived. The chair had outlived the grandfather by several decades, had seen how the grandson had turned into a grandfather himself, but then it, too, had had to meet its maker.

A pipe and fatigue had been its murderers. Fatigue had adamantly weighed down the old man’s eyelids; the burning pipe, feeling a bit lonely, had decided to incinerate its surroundings – the time-honored armchair. At least the old chair’s last act had been one of vigilantism – the pipe had been a victim of its own crime. Only fatigue was still at large and revisited the crime scene frequently, but the charges had been dismissed all the same.

Sure, the new armchair was aerodynamically shaped, joint- and climate friendly, and vegan, but it had no soul, no memories. It wasn’t an armchair; it was a piece of furniture, purchased at Ikea, of all places.

It was raining. For days, he had only heard this constant, almost pulsating sound, interrupted by sudden gusts of wind and the blubbering TV next door. Still, he insisted upon his window being open. Only then did he feel close to nature, even though there was always a wall between them now. It smelled like rain and green, and when he leaned forward, a soft breeze caressed his tired face.

The conservatory across the street had its windows open, too. Soft and enquiringly, the sound of a trumpet climbing up and down a single scale rose above the song of the rain and cacophony of the street. Up and down, repeating some transitions, up and down again. The scale turned into an etude of uncertain beauty, like a question, not knowing if there even was such a thing as an answer.

He perked up his ears as if he actually had control over the muscles attaching them to his head. But eventually he had to surrender to technology and turn up his hearing aid. Only now could he really hear the symphony of thousands of raindrops in unison with a single trumpet, conducted by the wind. Was anyone else listening, or was he the only one whose daily life was empty enough to be touched by the careful elegance of this combination of nature and man?

He listened more deeply into the sounds that tried to stay on the right pitch, but still billowed around like November fog. The trumpet got softer, as if the player was slowly tiptoeing away, letting the rain gain the upper hand. It tried to rebel with a last sustained note, but then bowed out gracefully, leaving the stage to the rain who accepted the solo as if it were an inalienable right and not a gift.

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