From the Promptuarium: Being Afraid
We put the rocking chair up in the attic four years ago.
There isn’t a lot of light up there, but it’s dry and dust free. There are no rats or mice or even bugs trying to sneak in and make it their home.
We used to have a bug and rodent problem in our attic, but after we cleaned it out and put the chair up there- not in the center of the room but near the wall where the floor is firm, anything that creeped or crawled between the walls or down from the ceiling moved out the minute we shut the door behind ourselves.
We could hear them scuttle and sqeaking in a panic and then it was quiet, but as we walked down the stairs we knew it wasn’t really quiet.
We knew that chair was rocking back and forth, like it always does when we turn our backs on it.
I lived in the house with the Rocking Chair in the attic with my Aunt Val, my cousin Tilly and Mr. Fox our lodger.
There was nothing remarkable about our house- it was old, my Great Grandfather built in in 1914 and in 1933 my Uncle murdered his friend ,Hubert, in the dining room over a card game.
My Uncle chopped his friend up into manageable pieces and tossed Hubert bit by bit into the Phinney River- he never got caught.
The entire family knew about it though, we also knew that our Great Grandmother sat in her rocking chair next to the window and kept an eye out for unexpected visitors as our Uncle chopped and our great grandfather wrapped up the pieces.
She was working on the squares for her quilt that she was making at the time and as she sewed, she shouted out instructions to our Uncle and Great Grandfather about where to take the pieces of our Uncle’s card playing frriend and reminded them that daylight was not on their side.
The quilt is on my Aunt Val’s bed to this day- it has birds embroidered on each little square. I think it’s very pretty.
The Rocking Chair in our attic has a nickname.
We call it the thinking chair.
When we have a little problem, we would sit and rock in that chair and look out the window until we got our answer.
It’s funny, the things that come to you when you just make your mind still.
It was just after my birthday, four years ago when I took a tumble outside on the ice.
I was at home alone that day and I sort of hobbled and crawled up the stairs and into the house and when I knew I was alone so I cried out and yelled all the way to the rocking chair and I fell into it.
All I could do was sit- that tumble had broken some bones in my foot and if I did as much as twitched a muscle my foot screamed and that scream traveled up my leg all the way through my chest and out of my mouth.
So I rocked a little to comfort myself and I looked out the window at that icey snow covered sidewalk and I went from wondering why Mr. Fox hadn’t shovled the snow off the walkway or even arranged for someone to do it for him the way he said he would.
Damn you Mr. Fox I thought.
But why put it all on Mr. Fox?
My Aunt writes all of the checks around here, she could have easily arranged to have that neck breaking walkway cleared.
The it came to me, as I sat there rocking- how to solve this little problem.
I rocked back and forth and I knew I knew what to use, how long it would take I knew daylight was not going to be on my side so, I pushed myself up and as the chair let go of me I whirled around and screaming foot or not I kept moving away from the chair.
It was still rocking.
After we got my foot taken care of and we got home we cleaned out the attic and we put the chair up there.
Sometimes we can hear it rocking, but we turn the tv up or we put the radio on or we talk a little louder.
We’re all still a little afraid of the rocking chair.
We know it’s up there above our heads.