“It’s time!” declared the sign on the door outside the room.
It wasn’t a large room. Around 5m by 5m (that’s 15’ x 15’ in old money), with grey walls and that one door in the centre of the rear wall. Sitting about a metre away from one of those walls, at right angles to the corners, was a wooden framed chair. It looked like something from the 80’s. That plump red leather cushioned seat. Wooden bar near the top of the back, and four legs that seemed to twist on their journey to the floor, giving the effect of feet facing out at opposite angles to each other, making the chair look very firm and stable.
A dusty shaft of light came darting towards the chair through the solitary, very small window, high up in the opposite corner wall. Shining like a spotlight, the shaft framed the chair against the stark background, making it look like a prisoner in an 80’s tv show, waiting to be questioned.
The door creaked open, a polished black leather shoe edging in to the room. It belonged to a tall thin man. His light grey suit almost blending into the greyness of the walls. He looked around at the bare walls, scanning the room, the window and almost seeming to examine every piece of dust hanging on the shaft of light. Turning to the right, his eyes now fixed on the chair. Bitten fingernails stretched up and scratched a stubble clothed chin. Reaching his other hand behind him, he gingerly pushed the door away, until he felt the firm click of it resting back in the security of the latch.
The man paced one foot in front of the other, the two steps to the chair seeming to take an eternity. Each millimetre filled with confusion and wondering. Not taking his eyes off it.
The one shaft of light made the shadows cast by the legs seem to come alive and dance around the corner walls behind the chair.
The man reached out and stroked the varnish on the uppermost bar at the back of the chair. His fingers feeling the old, scratched and history filled varnish. How many other hands had done the same over the years? What had this chair witnessed? The black, filled scratches were almost like fingerprints, making this chair unique. This chair was unique, though. For other reasons.
A sharp breath as he turned and lowered all of his six foot and seven inches onto the cushion. Slowly almost unsure that he was doing the right thing. As soon as his bum cheeks made contact with the softness of the cushion, it seemed like his mind came alive with visions and images of others that had looked out from this position. His eyes looked across at the window as it became a projector screen, alive with images from the past. Like a replay from HG Wells’ Time Machine, scenes began filling the window. All the way from creation.
An explosion of imagery.
Racing through time.
Millions of years in a matter of seconds.
This chair, had witnessed it all.
He gripped under the seat. Fingernails almost becoming part of the wooden frame that suspended the very cushion he was sitting on. His throat gripped as tight as his fingers, as the dust from the light felt like it was filling his breath and irritating his eyes. Every speck of light now a memory, a ghost dancing before his eyes.
Then the imagery changed from fleeting glimpses of history morphed into his story, moments appearing in the lights.
Just a glimpse a fleeting phantom of his mother, out in the park, laughing and dancing with him as a four year old – and his dad, playing football. Then family dinner. Always together, always special. School days, and summer nights dancing before his eyes.
For the first time he allowed his eyes to see his mother since that day she abandoned him to the bus wheels as a thirteen year old. His chest tightened and his hands gripped. The light now revealed his dad’s face, broken and heartbroken, worn and weary. Lost in his own trauma.
Becoming distant from his own son.
Fast forward now -glimpses through his jobs. Memories of girlfriends and relationships. He could – almost – smell the perfume, the allure. The fascination though, changed quickly to the fear as one after another, he had disappeared from them all. Unable to trust or open up.
It hit him then. Staring at the explosion of memories that his life was as grey as the walls that now surrounded him. The man begin to weep as it dawned on him, that that moment, all those years ago had stripped him of the opportunity of the splashes of colour that excited and decorated most lives.
He lived in monochrome. It was easier, he thought.
Less hurt. Less pain.
Tears now slipped their way down his cheeks, dripping onto the collar of his white, buttoned shirt. He mourned the loves and the lives he now knew he had denied himself.
A sound to the side of him caused his eyes to shift from the kaleidoscope of memories to the door as it slowly opened.
A sandaled foot making its way into the room. A Stranger, dressed in a white, middle eastern robe, with one scarlet and one blue band threaded through the material around the hem, approached the man.
This Stranger was confident. The light from the window danced off the stranger. The dust dissipated into the air at his approach, the memories almost seeming to be absorbed into his very presence. Those two steps were over in an instant, the man looked up into the face of this stranger, but he did not feel like a stranger. Strangely familiar those piercing blue eyes demanding the man’s attention.
They were kind.
The stranger stretched out his scarred hand and let it rest on the man’s shoulder. A warm radiance exuded from his hand, filling the man with a strange reassurance. He felt as if this glowing sensation was washing the hurt, the pain – the grief from him – displacing it all to leave the man with an overwhelming sense of peace.
Suddenly the greyness of the room, like the greyness of his life, seemed to evaporate into bright light. Now he recognized the blue sky coming through the window. “Didn’t that blue sky match the band on the stranger’s garment?”, he thought.
The window itself seemed to grow and take over the seamless concrete of the walls. Rainbows of light replacing the darkness and dust. The man pushed himself up from the chair, turned around and gave it a warm glance as he made his way over to the door, now open. A sprite in his step and a smile on his face. There was still a tear, but it was different now. This was a hope filled tear.
Now he got it. Now he understood.
The stranger was gone, but the man knew he was following him out of the door. He was ready to go and find himself some colour.
“It’s time!” he whispered confidently as he pulled the door closed behind him.