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Fantasticoe 2001 -  10th Anniversary Issue

 

The Chair

Marc Kray

…but when she turned and looked at me, that is when I got the coldest of chills. I probably could have handled it without freaking out, right up until the point where she looked at me, and noticed that I was there, and she could see that I knew she was there. I tried to remain unnoticed but I couldn't. I couldn't hide from it, there was no way to…

* * *

"Did you forget the milk again, David?" Sarah asked mockingly as I closed the door behind me.

"That happened one time!" I replied defensively. Last week Sarah had me run to the store while she was making dinner and I forgot to pick up the milk. I swear she's never gonna let me live that down.

"Just kidding, sweetie," she said with that cute smile on her face. I love it when she smiles. She gets these lines at the corners of her eyes. It makes my heart melt. She gave me a small kiss on the cheek as she stirred the pot of fettuccini on the stove. I put the milk, butter, and apples in the fridge. I went back over to her, put my arms around her and began kissing her neck below her ear. She gets goose bumps when I do that.

"What are you doing? We're in the middle of cooking dinner," she said accusingly.

"What do you mean? I'm not trying to start anything." But I was of course. I gave her a pinch on the ass and went to the oven. "I don't think it's done yet," I said as I closed the oven door.

"Well, chicken takes awhile," she said.

"How long is awhile?" I asked with a smirk as I ran my fingers through her dark hair and down the sides of her breasts. She breathed deeply and closed her eyes momentarily.

"Not that long, sorry," she said grinning. She pushed my hands away and gave me a love punch right to the belly. Yeah, sometimes she likes it rough.
 

A little while later we sat down at the dining room table and ate. After dinner we stayed up late watching movies in the basement. We always watch movies in the basement. That's where the living room is. Our house is quite old. I think the realtor said it was built in 1902. The old man we bought it from had lived in it since 1928. His wife had passed away recently and he couldn't really take care of himself so he checked into a senior home.

The cat seems to like hanging out in the basement, too. She's old, though, so she can't really climb the stairs down there anymore. She follows Sarah everywhere; she has since we found her one day on a golf course when I was teaching Sarah how to golf. Sarah thinks she's a little angel cat with her long white hair. It may be an angel to her, but I hate that sonofabitch. She's a little demon if you ask me. Any time I try to pet her, she hisses and tries to bite me. Quite frankly, I'm surprised the little bastard is still alive. She's been kicked across the room a number of times. Sarah doesn't know that, though. She's getting old so she moves pretty slowly. The litter box is upstairs in the utility room, just off the kitchen. Sarah and I usually hang out in the basement so the cat has to climb those tall stairs a lot. Poor little bastard.

Upstairs we have what's called the antique room. We don't usually hang out in there. It's kind of a freaky room actually. Sarah keeps all of her antique junk in there, hence the name "antique room." There's a beautiful stone fireplace along the south wall that we don't ever use. It looks like it was used frequently in the past, however.

In one corner of the room there sits an old wooden rocking chair. This chair was the only thing left in the house when we moved in. Sarah loved it so much she wanted to keep it. Its age is shown by the rough edges and the rustic nature of the wood. It's very unique. We asked the old man if he wanted it when we moved in. He told us that his wife always said the chair belonged in that corner of the house. That was its home. It was his wife's favorite chair. He said she would sit in that chair all evening long, sewing her quilts. The old man asked us to leave it there as a favor to his wife. Sarah loved the idea. Plus, it's a great antique.
 
 
 

One morning a few weeks ago, when I came downstairs in my flannel pants, I stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked into the antique room. My heart nearly stopped when I saw the rocking chair in the corner moving slowly back and forth on the wood floor. It creaked as it rocked, as if someone were sitting in it. As I slowly approached the chair, it stopped rocking. I looked at the chair for a few moments to see if it would resume rocking but it did not. I continued my morning routine with the newspaper and a cup of coffee. Before I went back upstairs to shower and get dressed for work, I went through the antique room again. The chair didn't move. As I went up the stairs, however, I could hear the creaking of the chair again. It seemed to echo through the room this time. I shouted at whatever was causing the episode to stop. The creaking chair stopped. It has never happened since.
 
 
 

For some reason, the cat hates the antique room and the staircase. She will follow Sarah everywhere else she goes in this house but she will not go in that room or climb the stairs. It's not because the steps are steep, in fact they are shorter stairs than the ones going to the basement and she climbs those without hesitation. She goes pretty slowly and looks like she's in pain but she still climbs them. Not these stairs, she won't have anything to do with them. A couple of times Sarah has tried to carry her upstairs but she just hissed and jumped out of her hands. It's very odd.

At the top of the staircase there is a door on the left. This is the guest bathroom. Turning right there is a long hallway. There are two doors on the left. These are both large guest bedrooms. Sarah wants them to be our future children's bedrooms. She wants to have a boy and a girl. I personally would be happy with a dog, a big one that doesn't like cats.

The right side of the hallway is a banister that overlooks the staircase and the entryway to the front door. The wall on the other side is decorated with photographs. There are a lot of pictures on the wall ranging from pictures of our wedding and our honeymoon in Costa Rica to pictures of Sarah's family and mine.

At the other end of the hallway is the door to our bedroom. We have a big bed with nightstands on either side. We have to have two alarm clocks. She starts her day at the ass-crack of dawn. She teaches biology at the university and works part-time at the hospital doing research. I don't go to work until 9 or 10 in the morning. Business owners can take their sweet-ass time getting to work. What am I gonna do? Fire myself? Anyway, the master bathroom is just off of the bedroom. I love going in there in the morning after Sarah was in there. It smells like a woman. God, that's a great smell.
 
 
 

So, we watched a few movies in the basement last night. The last one we watched was The Haunting. Needless to say I was a little spooked by the movie, as I usually am with scary movies. It reminded me too much of the chair in the antique room. I'm almost afraid to walk through there anymore. After the movie was over we went up to the kitchen and put away our chips and popcorn that we didn't finish. I grabbed a quick glass of water and headed toward the stairs. There were no creaks or rocking from the old chair so I continued upstairs.

Sarah leaned over and gave the cat a pat on the head, cleaned up a few things in the kitchen and went into the bathroom on the first floor. I entered the bedroom upstairs, took a long drink of my water and put the glass on the nightstand. I heard the toilet flush and the bathroom light click off downstairs. Pretty soon there was a sharp scream from the antique room. I scurried down the stairs.

"Sarah, are you alright?" She was standing in the middle of the room looking toward the fireplace. Upon further examination of the room I noticed that there was a fire burning in the fireplace.

"It just happened…right now…when I walked through the room…the fire!" she muttered almost bawling.

"This room is fucked up! Remember what I told you about that chair, the one that belonged to the old lady that died? I swear this room is haunted!" I told her. "I'll take the chair out to the garage for the night and I'll take it to the dump tomorrow." I took the chair out to the garage and put it into the back of the pickup.

When I came back in the house, Sarah was standing in the kitchen with her hands covering her face.

"What's wrong now?" I asked worriedly.

"Go look," she cried as she pointed toward the antique room. I entered the room to see that the fire had gone out in the fireplace. I looked closely and saw that the wood inside wasn't a bit scorched, as if there was never a fire to begin with. "It went out when you took the chair outside," Sarah whimpered.

"Come on. Let's go up to bed. Maybe it'll all be over in the morning," I said naively.

Sarah slowly untucked the pillows from the comforter and we both went into the bathroom and brushed our teeth. We laid down in bed and held each other tightly. I think Sarah went to sleep after a few minutes, but I was still a little shaky so I just stared at the ceiling for a while. The last numbers I can remember seeing on my clock were 3:17. I finally drifted to sleep.
 
 
 

At about 6 or so in the morning, I heard the shower turn on in the bathroom. I thought it was a little early to be up on a Saturday, even for Sarah, but I didn't think anything of it and rolled over. Soon after I heard a slight scratching on the bedroom door. We keep the door closed at night because there is a slight draft that comes in from the front door downstairs. What the hell is the cat doing up here? She's afraid of the stairs. I tossed the blankets off of me, dropped my feet to the carpet and stumbled toward the door. The shower was still on in the bathroom.

I peaked out the bedroom door and looked down. The cat wasn't there. What the hell was that scratching? I looked up and noticed the figure of a woman walking away from me very slowly down the hallway. It was quite dark out there but I knew it wasn't Sarah. It didn't look like her at all; besides, she was in the shower, right? I stepped out into the hall barefoot, although I'm not really sure why. The wood floor was much colder than usual. The figure was very hazy, almost blurred. She had on a white nightgown that was dragging slowly on the floor behind her. Her curly silver hair almost matched the nightgown.

As the woman passed the guest bedrooms, she vanished. Holy Sh…I couldn't speak or swallow. The figure reappeared just past the bedrooms. I held still. Does she know I'm here? I didn't move for the fear that if she heard me, she would…well, God knows what might happen. I slowly knelt down against the wall. The woman stopped walking just before reaching the bathroom door. I shuddered. Then she turned around and stared right at me. The coldest of chills ran up my arms, down my ribcage, and up the back of my neck. She had seen me and was peering directly at me. It was those eyes, blue like the hottest fire in the fireplace. No facial features, just the eyes. There they were, staring right at me. I wanted to look away, but couldn't.

Something made me glance up at the pictures right outside the bedroom door. The picture that used to be Sarah standing by a tall tree was now a picture of the woman that stood in the hallway with me, giving me the same blank stare with those fiery blue eyes. I turned back to look at the woman just in time to see her climb down the stairs slowly, turn the corner and enter the antique room. Seconds later the cat hurried around the corner and bolted up the stairs like she had never moved before. She scurried down the hallway and into my arms as I knelt against the hallway wall. Normally she would have hissed at me, but now she was clinging to me.

The shower turned off. I ran through the bedroom, tossed the cat on the bed and hurried into the bathroom. The shower curtain was still closed. I wanted to tell Sarah what had just happened out in the hallway but I couldn't speak. A hand reached around the shower curtain and grabbed the towel hanging on the wall.

"David?" she said. She must have heard me come in.

"I saw…I…saw the old woman." I could barely speak. Sarah tore open the shower curtain.

"The one…that…"

"Yeah, the one that's haunting our house!" I blurted, as my breath grew heavy. "In the hallway…she disappeared…then…now she's downstairs. I don't know what she wants from us!" I said as I held Sarah's naked body in my arms.

As if on cue we heard the slow creaking of the old rocking chair, the one that I had taken outside. I rushed down the stairs and into the dark antique room. The hot blue fire was burning in the fireplace, creating the only light in the room. There, almost hiding in the shadows of the corner was the woman from the hallway, sitting in her old wooden chair in her white nightgown and silver hair, her eyes burning. She was sewing a quilt.
 

The next few weeks were spent at Sarah's father's house while we shopped the area for a new home.



Acknowledgments:

I would like to thank Terry Heller and the Creative Writing J-term class of 2001 for their help in revising this story; my roommate, Scott, for reading it once and not really saying anything afterwards (meaning that it sucked); Helen of Voorhees Hall fame for the inspiration for the ghost theme; and most importantly, my loving girlfriend, Sarah, for letting me use her in my story.

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