re·cline \ri-ˈklīn\ transitive verb : to cause or permit to incline backwards

intransitive verb 1. to lean or incline backwards 2. repose, lie

Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French recliner, from Latin reclinare, from re- + clinare to bend. First Known Use: 15th century


The Lazyboy was a sort of garish orange threaded through with white. Susan picked at the worn section on the left arm, as if she could do no further harm to this eyesore of a chair that had no business existing in the first place. She could tell it was annoying her therapist, her picking not the chair itself, which he had apparently chosen after all. He had just asked her what she presumed was a pivotal question in her “therapeutic process” and he had a look of expectation on his face, although he was trying to hide it. This was the moment, she imagined, when she was supposed to have an epiphany. No, wait, it was called an epiphany in novels. In therapy, it was called… What the hell was it called again? Well, anyway, she was supposed to be overcome with emotion. She was about to disclose something major, something life-changing, something she had never realized until this exact moment. Maybe she would cry, a river or perhaps a single dramatic tear. A tear which she would let slide down the length of her cheek without wiping it away, feeling the poignancy of the moment grow as it slid and slid and then dropped below, leaving a mark on her cotton t-shirt.

But the truth was, she didn’t feel a damn thing. Hours and hours of therapy, hundreds of dollars and she had arrived at the moment when she was supposed to finally come to some sort of realization, perhaps provide herself with some restitution for years of self-harm and self-doubt. She almost felt bad for her therapist, who sat there calmly waiting for her to speak. He had worked hard to get her here and for what? For her to feel nothing at all? Perhaps she could fake it. Make some shit up. Babble about her subconscious desires. But no. This, she imagined, was one of the few things in life impossible to fake. You cannot feign knowledge about something if you have no idea what that something is supposed to be.

She looked down at the arm of the chair and realized what she had done. There was a large oval area on the chair’s arm that now resembled the bald spot on a mangy dog. Through one sliver at the side, you could even begin to see the metal rod inside the chair.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” she said, only it came out muddled and muted.

“What was that?” her therapist asked.

“I said I’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. I ruined your chair. I’ll pay for it.”

He dismissed the idea with a wave of his hand. “It’s not a problem, Susan. I’ve been meaning to re-cover or replace that chair for months. Really, you helped me out.”

“But shit, I just, I mean, I can’t believe I did this without noticing.”

“Really, it’s fine. If I was worried, I would’ve said something or asked you to stop.”

She could tell by the calmness of his eyes that he was telling the truth, but she couldn’t let it go.

“How much do you think a new chair costs? I can add it to my check for today. Really, I’d feel better.”

“Why do you feel it is necessary to compensate me for the chair when I’ve told you that it’s not important? Do you not believe that I’m telling you the truth?”

“No, I do believe you.”

“Then what it is it?” he asked.

“I messed it up, okay? I messed it up and I can make it right. This, this I can fix. I can fix this stupid fucking chair that is the ugliest goddamn thing I have ever seen. And it’s something that shouldn’t even be fixed because it’s that worthless. But I have the power to fix it and I know I can. So will you let me fix the fucking chair?”

She suddenly felt like she was going to vomit. She could feel the sensation of fullness in her belly and knew that the accompanying nausea would soon be followed by a warming of her esophagus as everything rose. But just as she felt it coming, she instead began to sob. Her whole body shook, convulsing in a way she had never experienced before. She did not fight it. She didn’t try to make herself stop. She put her head in her hands and she felt the water teem. Her nose was running but she didn’t reach for the tissues. She wanted to feel like the mess that she was. Oh right, she thought, it’s called a breakthrough.

1 Comment

Filed under weekly words

One response to “re·cline

  1. Jim

    WOW! Very engaging piece.

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