25th. May 2013 

The Old Lady in the Rocking Chair

"Copyright Owen Jones 2013 (c)"

By: Owen Jones

The Old Lady in the Rocking Chair

We five children were brought up in the same house by our parents during the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. In the Seventies, some momentous occasions took place for us:  I left home to go to university, our mother died, our father remarried and moved out and my next brother took over our old house.

It was quite an upheaval for our not so small family. They had been very pleasant, happy years for all of us and I for one missed the warm, homely atmosphere of our old house.

After five years at university, I moved to the Netherlands to live for ten years, so I was actually away from it for fifteen years, when I returned to my home town to live. My brother, the one with our old house was in the middle of a divorce and he offered to put me up.

I jumped at the chance to be able to sleep under our old roof again. I was hoping that there would still be happy memories there for me, although another woman had put her stamp on the place, changing it quite a bit.

I was given the medium-sized bedroom at the back of the house - the one that had been our parents' bedroom when I had last lived there. Four brothers had had the master bedroom and I had had the box room, so that I could study in private too.

My brother was working very hard all day, whereas I was unemployed and had nothing to do. I had enough money to be able to afford a break from work for a few months, so that was what I decided to do. I still had a few friends left in town, but basically I was estranged, so I offered to help my brother redecorate while he was out during the day and on the weekends.

I enjoyed his company when we were working together, over our evening meals and over a few drinks in the evening. Our parents had been spiritualists and Dad was still an active healer, so we were used to hearing stories that most people would call 'strange' and we enjoyed recounting them to each other.

However, my brother had fifteen years worth of stories that I had never heard and so I used to let him take centre stage most of the time so that he could bring me up to date with the goings on in our old house, which of course was his now.

My brother was a carpenter by trade, so he had done all the renovation work on the house himself. He told me of jewellery that he had found behind skirting boards that could only have been put there, but put there by what? Not by whom?

Nobody had ever seen rodents in the house and the skirtings fitted perfectly as Dad was a master carpenter himself and had lived there for more than twenty years. Children? Unlikely if the skirtings were a tight fit. So what?

We had no trouble believing that ghosts or mischievous spirits had been the culprits.

My brother had also found items in the chimney, although we had had a coal fire for nearly thirty years and the house was only ten years old when our parents had moved in. He had found a small tin and a small slipper on a shelf in the chimney, which surely should have burned in the heat of an open fire.

He had found coins old and new and brooches that we had never owned. There were items under the floor boards that were more easily explained away, but which did not really make sense either.

Neither of us, nor anyone else in our family found these stories unusual or frightening. After all, we had heard them all our lives and we had grown up in the house and not come to any harm because of it.

One night, I was lying in bed after my brother and I had been to a party at the house of one of his friend's. We had both drunken too much and gone straight to bed with a nightcap of whisky. As usual, it had seemed like a good idea at the time, but was superfluous. It remained on my night table, while I tried to sleep.

I have never been good at getting to sleep, so I just lay there listening to the sounds of the house 'settling'. I slowly became aware of a rhythmic creaking. Wood on wood, like a rocking chair on a wooden porch.

We didn't have one and it was far too late for anyone else to be rocking, not that we would have been able to hear them anyway. I listened intently, trying to put the noise down to a loose eave, or a broken branch swaying in the wind, but nothing fitted really.

I listened and as I listened, the sound seemed to grow louder or maybe I was so focused on it by then, that I had excluded all other sounds from my senses. I reached out, took my tumbler of whisky, downed it in one and lay back to listen to the rhythmic creaking.

It was not annoying; in fact it was soothing and the next thing I knew I was waking up with the sun shining through the window. My brother was calling me for breakfast.

It was a family tradition to discuss our dreams over breakfast and I had sorely missed it for fifteen years. I began to tell my brother about the creaking.

"Oh, I was wondering when you would meet our Old Lady. Dad said she moved in to that room shortly after Mum died. We don't know who she is, she has never said, but sometimes we pass her on the stairs or see her in the kitchen. Most of the time though, she just rocks in a chair and stares out of the window in that bedroom that you are in. Why don't you try talking to her as you'll be living with her for a while?"

"But why didn't you tell me about her?" I asked incredulously.

"I wanted to see how long it would take you to notice her and what you would both do about each other," he replied calmly with a wicked smile.

by Owen Jones

(c) Owen Jones 25th. May, 2013

This story may not be copied in any way without the written permission of it's author, Owen Jones, but you may link to it, if you so desire.