She shall not sit in the elegant chair.

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“Hey, get your chick off my hi-fi, Ned.”

“Don’t be a dick, Hal,” muttered Ned, not looking up from the low-res vintage photos he’d been poring over all afternoon. They weren’t old enough to be black and white, but they were old.

Everybody had a highball in hand except Hal’s own ‘chick’ – which was just as well, because she was drunk enough already, judging from the fact that she was sitting in Hal’s huge suitcase with the rest of his luggage stacked on her knees. Her sheer white dress rode up her legs in a way that made Hal grip his drink the more tightly.

“What the hell do you see in those photos?” Hal demanded of Ned. Hal was bored. And about as lit on gin as he was rich, which is to say considerably. Considerably bored, lit, and rich. Ned was not rich. Joy Anne, Ned’s steady in the green dress and high heels, lounging on top of the stereo console, was not rich. The girl in the suitcase was rich, but she hated it. She felt artificial.

“I see…” Ned said, “a row of houses – orange, red, and blue – reflected in still water.”

“That’s beautiful, baby,” gasped Joy Anne.

“I see…” Ned said, “a flower that looks like a cat.”

“You’re drunk,” Hal accused.

“I see two birds – one beside and one on top of an empty cage.”

“Cage…” This from the girl in the suitcase, whose name was Sarah.

“What else do you see, baby?”

“I see an elegant chair, empty.”

“I shall not sit in the elegant chair,” sing-songed Sarah.

“And I see one of those indian… dreamcatchers… but this one is a necklace.”

“How bizarre,” yawned Hal. And after he yawned, he said it again: “How bizarre.”

(Photo prompt provided by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.)

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