The case of the missing chair


We spent every morning together. I’d wake up and slip out of bed hours before the others, the rising sun beckoning through my curtainless window. I’d bring books and a journal and a pen, butter some toast and fill a cup with berries, then pad down the dock with my treasures in tow. I’d join my morning companion, that trusty seat of green plastic. In those precious morning hours, I prayed and wrote and finished Les Mis. I let the sun warm my face and the wind whip my hair. I watched the other early risers and greeted them silently, happily, as they boated by. We had it good, my chair and me.


Then one day, just like that, it was gone.


It had rained the day before, sending my family and me to the movie theater for a dry afternoon. I hadn’t even noticed its absence until long after the storm had passed. Aside from a vague clue from my dad who had seen it taken by the wind, I knew nothing of its whereabouts. Do plastic chairs float? Could it have landed upright? Might it have been pulled to the shore? As I scanned the rippling water, I saw no signs of hope.


So, out into the water I went, armed with goggles and water shoes. I planned my rescue attempt somewhat methodically, as if I were approaching a vast, overgrown yard with a lawn mower. As I slipped into the water and began to paddle my way around, I saw little more than the waving lakeweed that glistened in the sun. But still I paddled, back and forth, willing my lungs to hold more and more air and my imagination to avoid too much creativity when contemplating the depths’ unknown. How many hours am I willing to do this? I wondered to myself. However many it takes? What a triumph it would be, I thought, to present the prize to my unsuspecting family after a long, solitary, hard-fought search.


Soon my mom joined me in the water. I guess this means a trip to the hardware store today, she said with a shrug. As much as I longed for the triumph of a miraculous find, I knew she was right. Oh, well. But, not five minutes later, she pointed to the rocky shore. Is that it? I ventured closer, inspecting a forest green plastic Adirondack chair three docks down from our own. I hesitated as I approached the neighbor’s open door, feeling foolish. What if that’s not it? What if it’s theirs? If only I had described it in detail door to door before I began my search! I cautiously stepped closer toward it with a growing sense of certainty. Just like that, a smiling bearded man walked out. “Is this your chair? It washed up on our shore,” he said with a smile. Yes! Yes, it was. “Jim,” he said as I asked his name. “I’m Emma,” I said in reply. With that, I grasped the chair by the legs and held it aloft in triumph, walking ceremoniously back to our dock. As my sister caught sight of it, she smiled with a thumbs up. My dad came out to clap. My mom documented the happy return, and all was set aright.


Yesterday, our last day at the lake, I awoke to silence as always. Armed with my usual materials, I carried my beloved chair from its safe resting spot by the house to my treasured seat on the dock. I smiled to Jim as he ventured out in his sailboat to greet the day. As always, I prayed and wrote and read. I thanked God for the little delights of life and felt my heart swell at the joy of it all. We had it good, my chair and me. Together again, just as it should be.


Then, just like that, we were gone.


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