The Empty Chair
Dominica closed her knife and fork, took the last sip of wine and moved slowly to the kitchen. She let the water run for a moment until it was the right temperature then started to wash the solitary plate, knife, fork and glass. How many times had she done this, she wondered? For myself, only this summer. She thought about the other 45 summers she had spent at the lake with her husband, Rodrigo. They had started to come after their honeymoon. And then years had passed watching their children, grandchildren - and themselves - grow older. So many moments lost and felt in the blink of an eye, in the gentle mountain breeze. She walked out to the pool where the hotel staff had put out a chair for her, facing the lake. Here, she would sit and mull over the life she had lived, occasionally sharing stories and greetings with the passers-by. Before this summer, the staff had always put out two chairs but since Rodrigo had passed, they kept in mind her solitary chair. Dominica knew she looked sadder, and she could feel the pity from her fellow humans. She didn’t feel sad all the time and had loved her lived life. She also knew she didn’t have long left at the lake. She would come until she couldn’t.
The hotel staff waited the next year, but Dominica didn’t come. They left her chair next to the lake all summer long, adding another one for company.
Written at Lake Como, 26th July, 2022. Photo Rights Rachel Swanick