The Armchair

by ClipState

Preface

A psychological reflection on ones own tangles with love and the manipulation of our fantasies. Laid over an ambiguous foundation and minimal plot, a man converses with a psychiatrist about his past demons and what he feels, what he dreams. Don't let the calm, descriptive tone in the first paragraph fool you for revelations will follow and soon attention to detail will be all but reliable.

The story is divided into three distinct sections of writing styles:

1. Descriptive Writing

2. Conversation

3. Monologue(s)


The Armchair

Warm. That's how I would describe this place. It glows. Well, not really but it has a glowing... feel to it. The design. Its modern. Clean and sharp. The glass desk looks blue in this lighting and the afternoon sun just kinda messes with it. I want to close the blinds, just let the artificial light do its magic but that would take all the warmth away, don't you think? I sit in front of this well-dressed man. Some sweater vest, I don't really know. It's not really cold, but knowing the time of day, it will be soon, just like the glass table. Thinking about touching it to feel its temperature, I know it'll be cool. And I know that it might just send a shiver down my spine. I don't know why it happens. It just does. Back to the man. Well, he's a psychiatrist of sorts. Nah, just a plain old psychiatrist. Not sure if I'm supposed to say anything or not, but gosh this room is gorgeous. Comfy fabric armchairs. Not much leather actually. The suns been heating up the rear side of that empty sofa through that bay window for the better part of the day. If it was leather, I definitely wouldn't want to sit on what might as well be a frying pan. Well it doesn't matter now. The suns starting to set. Its gonna get cooler regardless. I wonder how much psychiatrists make? Probably a damn lot judging by this space. This guy has a lot of damn space. Lots of... furniture and stuff. That look on his face. The deep, fake interested look. Unfortunately, I know it all too well. He's not the first one I've seen but he is by far the richest. All the other ones sat me in decade old armchairs that smelled of old people. Never really understood. Didn't think too many seniors would actually seek out psychiatrists. Maybe it was the shrinks themselves. A good many of them were at least fifty. This one however is young. Unusually young and seemingly not as experienced as the others. So why? Why did I go to this guy instead of the more veteran psychiatrists? Desperation I guess. Well not really. None of them actually seemed to find a problem with me other than my flair for the dramatic. I had departed from the claustrophobic rooms of white and the similarly coloured venetian blinds all too soon. Oh, this guy is moving his mouth again. I guess I better listen to what I paid for.

"So how satisfied are you with your life right now?" asked the Shrink. Might as well answer him. The room is uninteresting now.

"I am satisfied. With the occasional feeling of unfulfillment."

"And would that be a social, mental, phys-"

"Mental. Definitely mental."

"And what does it mainly revolve around? An idea, or perhaps an emotion?" This psychiatrist seemed to take a different approach. It was broad and kinda uneducated, but I might as well play along. After all, I paid for it.

"One certain emotion. Love" I responded, feeling like I might have dragged it out longer than it needed to be.

"A woman then. We've had a few of these cases. They tend to be the most unorthodox of what I had to handle. So volatile. One case it's all about deprivation and rejection then another sparks ideas of dominance and rights over who gets the last scoop of ice cream. So what unfulfillment is this mental emotion of love causing you?" Hm. If I didn't have low expectations holding my hand through this particular visit, I would have found this man's lack of sympathy and casualness to be insulting or offensive. Doesn't matter. I'll just yabber on until our time runs out.

"I think I'm falling in love with an idea, doc. It's this girl. We haven- I haven't seen her since college and all of a sudden I'm obsessed with her. She's appearing in my dreams, at my dinner table, beside my wife. In fact, when I dream, she IS my wife!"

"This 'love' you say. Well I'm not in unfamiliar territory here. Just want to check. Please describe to me the 'love' you feel in your dreams, with this 'girl' that's taking over your vision."

"It's not just my vision doc, it's my heart. Old thumper here skips a beat every time she pops into this dear noggin of mine. It's like I'm the moon and she's Earth. Everyone loves her. She's popular, charismatic and holds everything that perfection herself would. And I'm this grey chunk of faceless rock. Hell, I'd actually rather be made of cheese. At least then my heart can express my feelings more properly and melt."

"Seems like someone has a flair for the dramatic" says the guy. Wow. Coincidence much? Well I guess that was what I was kinda going for. I can't really help it. At least not when I don't think too highly of the guy interviewing me.

"So I've been told."

Well I've started this dramatic chain. Might as well see how far I can push it. After all, it is how I feel. And the only way I can properly describe it is with drama. I mean it is a pretty dramatic feeling, love.

"Love. This connection I feel. I can't really describe it. It's like I'm in a trance, mesmerized and overwhelmed at the same time. Turned into a goddamn statue by some emotion and yet I still move. I can't feel shit but my affection for this girl. In my dreams, she walks down the halls of my college. We're a couple. She leads me up the stairs and through the classrooms. Everyone else is chaotic. They scream, the yell but they're mute, and we're not there to them nor are they to us. We do nothing but walk. Through the gallery, the library, the cafeteria... We keep walking and I... I don't see her face. Only when the dream starts, I do. Then she turns around and I never see it until I dream again. It's weird. It happens almost every night and yet I can't for the life of me remember. She walks and I follow. Across the school. New rooms, hallways and shortcuts are created. People, places and plants change before my eyes but I don't care. All I focus on is her. Her dress is a blur. It morphs. And when I finally do wake up, I see only the shape of her. A silhouette. Nothing more. And yet from that I see this perfect figure, a woman worthy only of the world of fantasy for me. An indescribable connection formed and unbroken. The silhouette eats dinner with me at night, talks to me at the table, cuddles with me in front of a tv. My wife says I've been distant lately. It's her. This dream woman is taking over my life and yet I can't get over her. Sometimes the thought of her brings me to nausea but every other time is love. I know it. So anyway, this silhouette, she changes faces, dresses and colours every time, but it's her. It's always her. I know this sounds like a classic case of obsession. Then let me ask you something. Is love an obsession?" Do you think I'm no better than some paedophile? They're obsessed with children. Lust. I am obsessed with love. This woman. This living example of perfection. Th-"

"And she lives on in your mind. Is that right? You see, this woman is only perfect because that's what you made her out to be. That's only why you fell in love with her. I know the story already. You were probably that guy who checked her out during classes, fantasised about her on and off throughout college. You know, you probably saw her kiss some guy, some guy you don't think deserves her, and that you'd be so much better for her, that you'd treat her right. And so when you graduated, you'd think about that. That 'hypothetical' life you'd have together. Well let me tell you something pal, each time you thought about her, you made her just that little bit more perfect. You saw all the good in her, all the beauty, all the perfection. All that negativity, the kissing with others, bad attitude, poor personality... you wiped that all clean eventually, didn't you? You erased parts of her to make her yours, parts that made up who she was. You moulded her into what she is now, and what she is not is not a real person. This 'woman' you fell in love with might as well be a figment of imagination. Now I heard somewhere that every time you recall something, you're remembering it from the last time you thought of it, and the original memory was lost long ago. And so with you chipping away at her imperfection, you made her this abomination, this shadow of who a person really is. Who knows? Maybe you even added a bit of imperfection just so that she could be more relatable. It doesn't matter. You want her. You want this non-existent entity that lives only through your oblivious mind and its damn rose coloured glasses. Nobody's perfect. That's what makes us human. You mentioned once that you fell in love with an idea. You probably know more than you think you do. Hell, you're a smart man. But what if you told yourself otherwise? Ah. Self-manipulation. You- I'm sorry. It's probably been a ride for you hasn't it? I see it now. I mean look at you. You're smart, successful, funny and you definitely got the money to afford me, and all the other psychiatrists you paid for. You've come so far in life and you are more than capable of getting the girl in real life. Although I think the closer you come to matching her level, the further you sink back. Because when you realise that it was actually possible, emphasis on WAS, it's already too late. It's too damn late to get her. You know that. She's probably married, having lots of sex, you know? Fucking her husband who's a drug dealer and beats her every morning. Yeah? You getting my drift?"

"Yeah" I think. "Yeah I get it." I get up. I leave a cold sweaty stain on the otherwise warm cloth armchair. I walk to the door and open it. "Thanks doc. Same time tomorrow?" I ask the empty chair as I leave the empty room.

The door to my house unlocks. It's quiet. Maybe my wife is out. Ah yes. She probably went to get cleaning supplies for that damn armchair. Its drenched.

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