The Whisper Chair

The Whisper Chair

A Story by LJ

to the prompt "hopepunk" = dystopia with some hope expressed


The big dome still stood, sort of, many years after it was abandoned. She saw familiar shapes in the kitchen - an industrial sink now full of dirt and the thing she thought was a griddle. Nearby were fallen shelves, a ruined book still showing here and there, and a large upright that stood alone. It was a bare tree trunk, dead wood, a sentinel to watch for the others which lay splintered on the ground. She thought the recent storms probably raged through the old dome, taking what they could.

Earth continued to reclaim territory with climate change. The storms were the strongest test people had to survive. They had to use the weather to continue living; she had to learn it beyond common sense. Survival instincts kicked in when she was nine years old and left alone. She was twenty now, and still, most often, alone.

The two times she’d met people like herself, single and almost friendly, wariness kept her from staying with them. She told them, “I have to go to my father. Thank you. Goodbye.” They didn’t know she’d lost him long ago.

She didn’t remember her mother. Her father had taken her on a long walk through mountains and the valley he called The Orphan, and sometimes to this canyon. The day they saw the strangers approach, down in the valley, her father told her they were an offshoot of a bigger group “so afraid it made them very aggressive, even against their fellow man.”

He told her to climb a tree and hide while he led them away. He moved slower than usual and made noise when he left. Then he ran, and she expected him to circle back like he’d done before. But she never saw him again.

She wore clothes made of something her father called a “tarp.” Her most precious belongings were her backpack, her pipe, her flint and her knife. She also knew where an axe was kept, near the dome, and a tool called a hammer. She didn’t really know how to use the hammer besides the fact it was handy if the axe got stuck in wood. And there was a whetstone hidden in one the many steel hubs that held the dome together. Her father found it one day, an exciting time, and showed her how to use it on her knife, then he hid it again.

She often walked to the dome. She sat in a chair she called The Whisper Chair. It was a sling of woven plants between two large sticks of wood. There was an ancient can of real tobacco by that Chair, the first smokeable matter she’d found besides the many wild variations of marijuana that grew in that canyon. Her father avoided the marijuana, so she did too. Still, it was a comfort to see it make the canyon green between snow storms and high winds.

Today she sat in the Chair, smoking. She looked at the roof of the dome, curving up some thirty feet above. She could see the sky through holes up there, many holes. The dome wasn’t much of a shelter, but better than some. Besides, she felt comfortable here, and The Whisper Chair was magic. Her father explained it as sitting in a place domes generated somehow, a place where, no matter how quiet they were, you could hear people move and speak from the opposite side. You could hear a whisper, and she waited for that. There, there it was! Words this time.

He whispered a word. “Hello.”

Said it as if he knew her, but she knew it was the magic of the Chair.

She quietly said, “Hello to you.”

Long silences drifted between words, but that didn’t bother her. She knew they’d share more.

He said, “I found what I think is a hand-gun.”

She went still and silent. Her father told her once about guns. Bad things.

He said, “Keep breathing. I don’t really know how guns work, how they hurt the bad guys. It’s full of dirt anyway. Makes a pretty good hammer.”

She said, “I have a...”

“A what?” he asked.

“I have to go soon.”

There was a hint of laughter.

He said, “No, you’re alright. Where would you go? Stay here and whisper. I won’t hurt you. I used to have a hammer somewhere here, but I lost it.”

“Maybe somebody found it,” she said.

“If you found it, would you please leave it by the east door sometime?”

“Door? What would you do with a hammer?”

“Build something. I don’t know. I could find some nails here and build something.”

“Are you a builder? My father says they’re either hiding or gone. What can you build?”

“Just something. I made that chair you’re sitting in.”

A long silence. She smoked and considered things. She was pretty sure she’d fixed the Chair.

“If you made this Chair,” she said. “You’re pretty good.”

He sighed, “I made it a long time ago. You repaired it. That makes both of us good.”



“I lost a lot of things here,” he whispered. “The worst is when you lose people.”

“Oh. Yeah, yes it is. Who’d you lose?”

“There used to be a regular crowd of people living here, getting in each other’s way. I lost them.”

“My father told me...”

“Told you what?”

“His parents or grandmother or somebody lived here in the long ago.”

She filled her pipe again.

“Hmm,” he said. “That’s why you know to whisper, huh?”

“Well, yeah. I told you that before, maybe a month ago. I lost people too. It’s easy to do in this world.”

“But you come here and visit with me.”

“Yes,” she said. “People need a friend, my father said.”

“I’m a whisper to you. You know how it is. I lost my body, too.”

“Well, that’s alright,” she said. “You live through the storms better that way. You’re always here.”

“Will you live here?”

“I know my way around here,” she said. “But I have to keep moving. I come here when the earth rests.”

“I think we’re something like friends, don’t you?”

“Shh. Don’t cry,” she said. “We’ll tell each other stories. Tell me about the people you lost.”

Silence. Then a loud noise when she dropped the tobacco can. It rolled away.

“Shh,” he said. “Don’t cry. I’ll tell you stories. I know lots.”

She sat and listened.

It was a good day.

© 2020 LJ

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Added on September 28, 2020
Last Updated on September 28, 2020
Tags: short story, future, climate change




i am testing this to see what it's all about now. i used to write here years ago, and enjoyed it very much. i wrote fiction mostly, and many reviews for other writers. i made friends, and hope to agai.. more..

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