Saturday 26 June 2021

'Extinction' by Liz Wride

The exhibit sits on a raised, cordoned-off platform. It’s nothing more than an office chair; the kind with stiff wheels and a chunk of foam inexplicably missing from the armrest.  There is frayed green fabric on the seat-pad.

In the local paper, an art critic, a man in his sixties, gives the whole thing a ‘no star review’. The national press critic, a woman in her sixties, who had decided to grow old ‘disgracefully’ give it a five star review.

They say, you need to start seeing it.

People mill around it, in the air-conditioned soup of the room. The security guard, a man in his fifties, who is losing his muscle to fat, keeps a watchful eye and wonders why the exhibit attracts exclusively women under forty; but men of all ages.

The girls under-twenty five tilt their shiny-haired heads, like confused puppies; where those closer to forty look with an expression of wide-eyed horror.

The men, above all, seem disgruntled, conned by the newspaper reviews. They wanted to see ‘the last of its kind’ or the ‘brought back to life’.

Occasionally the security guard checks his torch is still hanging from his belt. At the end of the day, when the guests are gone, and it’s just him and the empty chair: he’ll act like the Sheriff at high-noon:
Three paces
Quick Draw
Torch pointing firmly and squarely at the chair.

“Bet you’re glad this isn’t a real gun?”

When the women under-twenty-five; under forty; the national newspaper art-critic in her cerise lipstick with her discerning eye, and spot-on-reviews  – have gone – it is only the CCTV that sees her: the woman over 40 always-perched on the office chair.

Now she is visible.

Too fat, too thin, too lined… you too, one day.

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