The Coronation Chair
by Scott Lambridis
Among those poor enough to enter the furniture profession, there is a story told of one hero who became a coronation chair. In our line of work, names are lost once the bill of sale is notarized and the purveyor stamps the crate with your new title, so most of us forget our hero was ever just a man.
Some say he began as a humble stepstool for a short-legged chef, the meager payments all going to feed his family. Others insist he earned his first gold coins as a love seat in a banker's library. Imagine, his first job, such an honor! But everyone, from nightstands to armoires, lamps to bookshelves — even the hammocks and mattresses — we all know our hero's path was long and challenging.
Once, he was a pedestal, purchased by a horticulturist for the garden cactus.Once, the prison paid to cover him in straps and hold the fated as they writhed.
Once, he volunteered as a gurney in the war.
Children hearing our story hide beneath covers. Wives stare at their ceilings, contemplating what's been forgotten in the attic.
Driven by our hero's story, we knock our elbows against every wall, every fence. We scoot across the ground on our knees. All of this to callous the skin, harden the cartilage and bone. No foot, no ass, no clumsy drunk makes us shake or bend or fall. Our breath is a faint whisper. We survive for days on a square of butter, a handful of nuts, our bladders are taut and unyielding, and we laugh at the mention of castration. You don't spend a summer as a whorehouse sofa without control.
The discipline pays off. A pastor buys you as a pew for the local church, or a city councilman sees in you a brightly colored rug. Maybe you even sell yourself as a podium to a regional magistrate.
Then that day arrives for the lucky ones when you are crated up and freighted to the capital and carried into the wide open doors of the royal palace, your stiff back ready to receive the loose buttocks of the new queen on her coronation day. You may not know your buyer, but the money has already arrived. A down payment on a house. An education for your sons. And when the crowbars break the darkness of your crate, and the planks fall to reveal the grand hall, that is when you see the queen, already crowned and seated in her chair. A simple chair of wood and iron and gold. No heart, no soul, no breath.
"A gift," announces the buyer.
The queen nods. A majestic smile.
They stack you on top of the others. Not all chairs are for sitting.
Scott Lambridis's debut novel, The Many Raymond Days, received the 2012 Dana Award. The novel, about a scientist who discovers the end of time, is seeking publication. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Slice, Painted Bride, New American Writing, the Newer York, Storyglossia, and other journals. He recently completed an MFA from San Francisco State and, before that, earned a degree in neurobiology and co-founded Omnibucket.com, through which he co-hosts the Action Fiction! performance series. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.