One more chair

by Wong Chun Ying

I think it’s in this 200-square-foot room
with a bed, a desk and a chair, a portable stove tucked
away under the sink, that you fixed the blinking
lights, looked around the room, and said to me,
“We only need one more chair,” instead of a
rack for my vinyls of mediocre Taiwanese post-punk
bands, instead of a display shelf for the purple banknotes you
never folded in half. All you thought
we needed was one more chair, one more place to sit
and eat chatpate in silence, to have
a fight and pace awkwardly around, to straddle when
reading a thin, unfunny book, to leave empty
when the other person is not home. You’d rather
save this space for us instead of things because we live
here, among things we love, yet
I’d rather think they live here, among us,
because I don’t know how to come home
to a person. I only know how to come home to things
I’ve been struggling to own, things that
stay and stay until
I forget they are there. I
have spent too much of my life
waiting for people, encounters, great conversations;
a gust of wind scented with the sweetness
of ember-roasted potatoes that made me
realize it was too cold to be looking at my watch
for the third time in big parks, in rooms with thin walls, in
an arcade lit up by a massive LED screen that bled
busy crosswalks, in beds with holes. I’m
not doing that in my own home, I’m not
hoping someone would come back to sit
on another chair. And so I sat up in the only seat
that gave me rest, turning
the stained mug slowly, steadily, making you notice how
the lights started blinking again
in our drinks, and asked—
“A chair?”
You took a sip of
your own flickering eye and tried
not to choke.

“A chair.”

“Just one more chair. Then
we’d have everything.”

Wong Chun Ying is a writer from Hong Kong. She currently works as the publishing officer in the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. She writes predominantly in Chinese. Her latest short story in English, “The Disciple”, can be read online at Cicada (