Fiction from Bronwen Griffiths
Cadair Werdd (The Green Chair)
Our father sat in the green chair for over a decade—its arms slowly turning black and frayed, the seat sinking under his weight. He weighed his words and spoke only when necessary and he used Welsh, his mother-tongue. All traces of English seemed to have vanished from his mouth like water leaking from a rusty pipe.
After our mother’s death from cancer something broke in him. His muteness, his virtual absence, became like a millstone around our necks, a void in the centre where love should have been.
One day he wasn’t there. We searched the house, the fields and the brook. His few belongings remained by his chair—a twisted pair of spectacles, a worn copy of the Bible, a half-eaten packet of digestive biscuits—but we could find no trace of him.
We decided to sell the house. Not because we needed the money or because of its shabby disrepair. There was a heaviness in the air. It felt like deep water. We floundered.
I returned a year later. There were blue Venetian blinds in the windows, a brass carriage clock by the front door.
No one answered the bell so I opened the side gate and walked into the garden. I was sad to see the honeysuckle and old roses cut-down, the lawn so severely trimmed.
Our father’s chair, faded by rain and sun, sat perched on the bank. Below, in the brook, a millstone had settled. It had not been there before.
I sat and listened to the gurgle of the water and the woodpecker tapping on a distant oak. Then I retraced my steps, my feet light on the summer grass.
All I said to my sisters was, ‘The house is changed,’ and we continued on in our new ways.
Bronwen Griffiths is the author of two collections of flash fiction and two novels. Her flash pieces have been published in a number of online magazines and print anthologies. She is currently working on a novella about a woman in a lighthouse. She lives in East Sussex, UK.