My nephew forced me to buy the chair at a yard sale. The "End of the World Sale," the plywood sign called it, and the chair was propping up the left side of the sign. The chair had only been owned for a week, real leather on the arm rests, and real steel in the supports. Walnut brown with a red undertone and yellow stitching, not as elegant as black models, but distinct. My nephew said I'd use it in my new writing room. He said I had to get writing again, which was his way of saying I needed to get over my wife. Little did he know, little did I know.
See, the seat cushion sighed when I sat on it for the first time in the morning. The same sound as so many of Ruth's sighs, when she'd get in after double-shifts and plop beside me to boot up Netflix. And I have this habit of leaning to much to the left when I'm hesitating over a plot idea, and every time I did, something in the supports grunted. I swear, grunted, like when Ruth was upset at me, the minor upsets, like I'd forgotten the turn signal on a vacant road, or put the toilet paper in facing the wrong way. I figured the chair had sat on the grass too long and some dew had gotten into whatever gears a chair has.
Then there was this Wednesday night when I wrote. Really wrote, for the first time since I couldn't anymore. A whole short story in one sitting, and I was at least a third of the way into another one when I realized I'd been holding the same posture the whole time, my back never touching the chair. I rubbed my eyelids and reclined, and the chair…
Man, I know that noise. I'm the only person who ever made Ruth make that particular squeal. Me, and peppermint gelato.
I never got it to make that sound again. You know what nephew said? To oil the chair. With peppermint oil. And people ask why Ruth and I never wanted kids.
It's not haunted. I don't know if I believe in hauntings, but I know I don't believe in this one. It's that one time I got the wrong e-mail from my sister-in-law at the wrong time, and I sighed, and I know I sat forward, and air escaped the cushion at the same time, and it sounded like Ruth was sighing with me. And that never happened when she was alive, but I spent the next two hours imagining how it could've. Wishing it did. I slept downstairs instead of in the bed across from the office.
The urge is to write about this, or take it as a sign and write about Ruth. Except I can't start a paragraph about her without devolving into how much I fucked hate and don't understand what are aneurysms are, and I'd need to research them, and I can't enter that word into Google. I can't bear the sound the chair might make, or that it might not make a sound afterward. That it might go as quiet as a floor model.