The White Room: A Requiem

by Christopher Woods

My family was never formal. We were what we were. But in spite of this, my parents bought a house with a den, and a living room. The den was life. The living room was the room in which very little living transpired. Oh, maybe on Christmas we would gather there. Sometimes a guest would sit there with us. But as I said, we were not formal. Most entertaining was done in the den, or later, after puberty, I often entertained in an upstairs bedroom. Always very quietly, as my bedroom was directly above my parents’ bedroom. 

But this living room, what I call the white room, was always there. Silent, it remained, as if waiting. For what? Time was passing, and already homes were sporting game rooms, great rooms, and other absurd names for spaces that builders and architects came up with to measure the drifting nature of American families. Most families drifted apart, or away, depending on circumstances. My own family was no exception.  

Now this white room seems ghostly. Empty chairs and couch, not occupied. Ever. The room seems enormous because of the vast sense of vacancy, but in fact it was never such a large room.  Spaces change in dimension as we ourselves do, as time passes, as we gain perspective anew.

Who are the people in these pictures on the walls? Old royalty from another time? Portraits stolen outright and mass produced for other white rooms? I have no idea. Yet there they are, still, like the room itself, waiting. But for what?

On the day I took these photographs, I was to meet with a realtor. The family home was about to be sold. No one from my family will live here again, ever. The irony of the white room is that no one ever actually lived in it, for almost fifty years. It was always waiting for a special moment. 

Like we all wait for one thing or another, perhaps. Maybe there is a bit of white room in us all. Good luck with yours.

About the author:

Christopher Woods is a writer and photographer who lives in Chappell Hill, Texas. His photographs can be seen in his Galleries: His photography prompt book for writers, From Vision to Text, is forthcoming from Propertius Press. His novella, Hearts in the Dark, was recently published by Running Wild Press. His poetry chapbook, What Comes, What Goes, was published by Kelsay Books (

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