#10 Mr. Esper’s Chair

by Christy Luis

A carefully carved, wooden chair sat on Esper’s porch, until the fire burned his house down. Our house lived, somehow.

When I first drove Charlie home again, he asked, “Where is Mr. Esper’s house?”

“The fire got it, son.”

He surprised me by crying.

Why cry? I wondered. No one knew Esper, not even his first name. The old man walked the neighborhood, but he never said anything when Charlie yelled, “Hello!”

Why cry, Charlie, sweet boy?

Slowly, Esper’s house reappeared, rebuilt. Esper came back, too—looking older and grumpier.

Charlie insisted on bringing him cookies. Sweet boy, Charlie. I still never saw Esper, but a hospital chair appeared on his porch, and Charlie visited daily.

“I can’t wait until I’m old enough to stay out until midnight,” Charlie would say. I would just smile, not understanding.

The day the school bus flipped and tossed my Charlie into the wreckage, Esper visited my door, weeping.

“I’m so sorry about Charlie.” His fuzzy speech clued me in: I realized Esper was deaf.

Then, I was the one who visited Clyde Esper. Every midnight, we had coffee over silence and stargazing.

Age touched my beard, my eyes, my hair: I noticed its progress over a few hard years. But I finally learned my little boy’s wisdom: the blessing of people.

When age took Clyde, a few years after my boy, I was left with his comfy hospital chair, baby pictures of Charlie, and the wisdom they left with me.

The stars understood.


Jade said...

A good rendering of some painfully familiar processes. My favorite brush stroke is how the narrator learns to sit with Esper at midnight, when the silence is more common.

Sam Knight said...

A beautiful coming of age story, from an older point of view. You managed to play my heartstrings.

Kimberly King said...

Love this story. It actually brought me to tears.

Christy Luis - Dostoevsky in Space said...

Thank you, all three of you, for reading my story! I am glad Charlie and Esper touched more people than my narrator and me.

Rachel Green said...

What a heartfelt cycle of life.

Sarah Laurenson said...

The unknown and our indifference but not to a child who can see more clearly. I love the layers here.