The Ladies of Horror
The Reading Chair
by Stacey Turner
Rachel’s Nana died when she was ten. Nana had been the only stable thing in her short life, so losing her felt much like the end of the world. The only comfort she could find was in Nana’s reading chair. She begged her mother until they moved it into their cramped trailer where, even outdated, it looked regal compared to the other furnishings. No cigarette burns, no broken springs, and it retained the faint scent of Nana’s house. Rachel took refuge in the chair, where she could curl up with a book, press her face to the cushion, and escape.
“The Reading Chair is always there,” became the mantra that got her through her days. At the end of every day, every desolate episode of Rachel’s life, the chair sat in its spot, the corner of the living room, waiting to enfold her, to comfort. Her ownership was never disputed. The ever changing stream of her mother’s boyfriends seemed to avoid Rachel’s chair, as though they sensed it was intrinsically hers. All of them, that is, until Arthur.
Arthur lacked any kind of intuition, any tidbit of self-preservation swallowed up by his enormous ego. After three weeks of teasing her to the point of tears, then taunting her with threats of violence, Arthur finally crossed the line. He backhanded her as soon as she’d shut the front door and she went down hard, hitting her head as she fell. Through bleary eyes, she watched him laugh. “The reading chair is always there,” she whispered to herself, focusing her gaze.
“Do you hear yourself?” Arthur asked, hands on his hips. “What is with you and that fucking chair anyway? You going to hide out there for the rest of your damn life? Make me and your mama support you while you read your life away?” She continued repeating the mantra quietly to herself. “Fuck this,” Arthur gave her a lazy kick. “It’s a chair. See?”
“Don’t!” she cried as he turned his back and settled his ass on the edge of her chair. Rachel was never sure exactly what happened afterwards as she shut her eyes tightly the moment he started to sit, not wanting to watch him claim her only safe space. When she opened her eyes, the reading chair was still there, but Arthur was not. Nor was he ever seen again.
Fiction © Copyright Stacey Turner
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
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