James Holden: The Chair Race

It is late, and the words of the executive committee briefing I am writing are merging into each other. I can’t leave until I’ve hit send and I just need to give it a final check and proof. I need to do something to re-renergise, but have already had too many coffees – I fear that I’d develop a tremor in my hand or a twitch in my eye if I drank any more.

There’s no one left in the room I work in, and there surely can’t be anyone left in the building, apart from security. Whilst still sat on it, I awkwardly manoeuvre my chair into the corridor. Unlike the carpeted offices the floor out here is stone, or a polished surface that looks like it is. I push off with my legs, and start taking increasingly bigger strides up the long corridor. It’s difficult to build up speed whilst I’m sat down – I feel like some weird daddy-long legs trying to win a race. But I love it – the whoosh of the wheels on the polished floor, the noticeboards passing before my eyes in a riot of blurred colour.

I come to the first fire door and push my way through. One lap, I think to myself, and I’ll return to my work so I can get out of here.

But as I reach the next fire door I see a woman ahead of me on a fast-moving chair, pushing herself along. I move my legs faster, determined to catch up with her. She slips through a fire door and out of sight. Moments later I skid in front of it, watching through the glass as she continues her way.

I nimbly pass through the door, and my legs start working overtime. I think about calling out to her, but wouldn’t it be funnier if I overtook her, perhaps turning to wave and grin at her as I did so?

I’m not too far behind as she goes through the next door. If she’s aware I’m here, she doesn’t show any sign – doesn’t turn her head to see my thundering up from behind or shout “catch me if you can”.

I reach the next fire door before it has closed properly. But as I turn into the stretch of corridor, she’s no longer there. There’s no sign of a door closing, and I try each of the office doors. All of them are locked. Disappointed I stand up and wheel my chair back round to my own office. I’m about to go in, finish the briefing so that I can go home, when the fire door at the other end of the corridor opens and a woman’s face poked through. “Fancy another lap?”

I sit down and start to wheel myself towards her. “You betcha,” I shout as my momentum builds. The report will still be waiting when we’re done racing.


About James Holden

Brought up in Yorkshire, James has washed up on the shores of London. He spends his days working as a political geek. His short stories have previously been read by the Liars League.
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