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Rocking Chair

Amber, Kentucky, USA
June 2001

My parents grew up in small towns in the mountains of Southeastern Kentucky and as such, have always had an appreciation for sturdy, handmade goods, country wares and early American furnishings.

When I was 16, my mother said she would love to have an old fashioned rocking chair - solid, smooth-backed and built more to her scale (5ft-1in) than modern mass produced chairs. Antique shops were too expensive for my pocketbook, so I spent several weeks prowling through second-hand furniture stores and "elegant junque" shops. I finally found the perfect chair with dark cherry wood, simple hand-turned details and a still-springy, if broken-in, upholstered seat. Mom loved it and put it in a place of honor in the family room. She didn't use it at first, keeping it in reserve until her current TV chair was retired.

Nearly ten quiet months later, it came time for my annual Halloween party. My parents would be out of town for a football game and I would have the house to myself for my party. I was something of a goody-two-shoes at the time, very responsible for my age, and I never served alcohol at my under-age parties - so none of the things we experienced that night were alcohol-fueled.

I prepared the house with my rowdy friends in mind and moved most breakables into cabinets, etc. The last thing I did was move my Mom's rocking chair upstairs to my parents bedroom. The last party I had thrown had ended up with a broken chair and I certainly didn't want to repeat that problem.

The party was in full swing when Betsy and Kitty needed a restroom break. The lower level bath was occupied, so I directed them to one of the two bathrooms upstairs. Within two minutes, I heard muffled screams from my parent's bedroom and then clattering as both girls bolted down the stairs. They were pale, shivering and refused to speak, cowering on the couch with their boyfriends. I decided I had to see what the problem was and started up the steps. About three quarters of the way up, I felt a cold, heavy atmosphere pushing on me. I called to another friend, Jo, to come up with me. She got just to the bottom of the stairs, turned pale and backed out of the foyer, refusing to come any closer. I hastily beat a retreat back to the family room and peered around the doorway toward the top of the stairs.

It was then that I heard very heavy footsteps stomp across my parent's bedroom floor. I also heard something drag across the floor, ending with a loud thump. "I don't believe this", I muttered. "YOU don't?" said my friend Jack, standing next to me. "I just heard something too!", he said. I grabbed Jack's hand and took him upstairs with me. My parent's bedroom was cold and the air was very had a weight to it and breathing against it took conscious effort. In the middle of the open part of the room was the rocking chair facing the door. I didn't remember leaving it there, facing that way, but maybe the girls... "Amber", Jack said "I don't even believe in anything like this, but Look!" He held out his arm. He was covered in goose flesh. We both backed out of the room and hurried down the stairs to the party.

Jo met us and said she had felt anger or upset and maybe loneliness. We decided that the chair, or whatever was associated with it, was upset about being moved upstairs. I gathered a couple of my male friends and we went upstairs and brought the chair back down to the family room. Nothing else happened that night, or ever again where the chair was concerned.

It was a couple of years later, though, that I finally got the story of what had happened to Betsy and Kitty. The pair had gone to my parents room because it had a large vanity, mirror and lights to use outside the bath. While primping in the mirror, Betsy said it suddenly grew cold and they both heard a low moan start and pick up volume. When she caught a glimpse of a shadow figure in the mirror, she screamed and both she and Kitty ran.

As for the rocking chair, well, I decided it needed a seat overhaul. I took it apart and discovered it was really older than I had thought. The metal springs had been added at a much later date and the chair had probably had a cain bottom at one time. One of the spring anchors had rusted through and I didn't have the equipment to fix it. I moved it a back corner of my parents garage and bought my Mom a nice, machine made rocking chair with no previous owners. She didn't like it as much, but I felt much better about it...

Amber, Kentucky, USA
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