By Jon Moray
This piece was first published in print in 2014 for Grey Wolfe’s Legend Anthology Series. Ever since I was a kid occupying a rocking chair next to my bedridden grandfather, I always enjoyed the serenity of the lazy motion the chair provided. Enjoy!
I was eight years old when my grandfather died of a sudden heart attack in his wooden rocking chair that was situated beside the fireplace in his living room.
My earliest memory of my grandfather, Grandpa Fella Storyteller, was at five when my parents dropped me off at his country home for the day, while they attended a wedding. I called him Grandpa Fella because he would always call my dad and any other man ‘Fella.’ He affectionately referred to me as ‘Little Fella.’ That day I was introduced to his wonderful stories of fantasy and science fiction; time travel was his passion. It was then when I added the ‘Storyteller’ part to his nickname.
He noisily settled in his chair and motioned me over with a pointed crooked forefinger protruding from his bony hand. A skeleton of a frame, with white, stringy hair, bi-focal glasses, flannel shirt, and jeans with patches on both knees was probably the best way to describe his appearance.
I hopped beside him in his seat that easily accommodated the both of us with room to spare. He thumbed through a loose leaf binder where his hand written stories were housed and asked me if I wanted to hear a fantastic tale. I nodded with excitement as if I was a bobblehead doll. That day, he told a story about a boy that traveled back in time by spinning a coin counterclockwise to the year that was on the coin. I closed my eyes and the words that floated from his raspy voice guided me along on this fantastic journey. All the while, Grandpa Fella rocked the chair gently as if mimicking a spaceship battling subtle turbulence.
“Someday, I’m going to publish my stories and give books to all of my grandchildren,” he said, with eyes that sparkled as if he saw his book-writing dream in my eyes.
“Why don’t you use the computer to write, Grandpa Fella Storyteller?”
“I’ve never learned how to use those things. Besides, I enjoy the scratchy sound the pencil makes when it touches the paper.”
From that day on, every visit with Grandpa Fella included a time traveling story in his rocking chair that seamlessly segued into a spaceship when he was deep in his moving narrative. I struggled with the news of his departure. We had made quite a bond.
My parents and I arrived at his home that featured a deep wrap-around porch that sheltered the home from the boiling heat in the heart of summer. I exited the family sedan, leading the way through the front door and my scampering progress into his living room came to an abrupt halt when I saw Grandpa Fella’s rocking chair.
As my parents sifted through important papers and remnants in his bedroom, I hurried to the chair as my way of paying homage to my grandpa. My momentum and clumsiness rocked the chair backward and almost upended. I exhaled deeply, allowing my loving memories of Grandpa Fella to swirl in my head. I closed my eyes and imagined him opening his binder, clearing the lingering saliva from his throat and uttering the first word of a highly anticipated tale. Suddenly, I heard his voice, no longer raspy, but clear. I opened my eyes to find only me in the vicinity.
“Close your eyes and enjoy the adventure,” said Grandpa Fella, in a soft, reassuring tone, as my startled, rapid heartbeat simmered. I did as instructed as he began to spin a story of a man that was unexpectedly thrust into the future by way of a revolving door serving as a portal. The chair began to rock gently as he described peaceful aliens inhabiting Planet Earth and sharing secrets to a blissful planet. His craft of literary imagery flowed as his creation of well intended aliens with elongated multi-colored heads and distorted slender bodies made me wish I could travel to that far away place. I could see his worldly vision as if his ghostly thoughts were remotely transmitted into my brain.
“The end,” Grandpa Fella Storyteller announced theatrically, with the promise of more stories as long as I occupied his magical chair. Stories that deserved to be heard and published.
I opened my eyes as my mom approached.
“What’s going to happen to Grandpa Fella’s easy chair,” I asked, expecting an unfavorable answer.
“Grandpa wrote a will about a year ago. In it he said his rocking chair was to go to you. Your father and I discussed the matter and we decided the chair is way too big to keep in your room, so it will be kept in the basement. It’s an old and beat up piece of furniture. Are you sure you want it?”
My mother looked at my freckled face and saw Grandpa’s youthful enthusiasm in my deep blue marble eyes and crescent moon shaped smile. It was the same demeanor that glossed Grandpa Fella Storyteller’s face whenever he discovered a new fantastic story idea.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she said, as she lovingly stroked my hair.
As I grew older and the challenges of adulthood and responsibility increased, Grandpa Fella Storyteller’s chair collected dust in the basement. I moved out of my folk’s home, married, bought a house, and was an expecting father.
My wife had begun her third trimester when she announced her desire for a rocking chair to soothe the baby inside of her and eventually after birth. She told me she saw one that caught her eye on one of the shopping channels. Thoughts of Grandpa Fella’s chair rocketed back to me like one of his stories. I told her I would look into a chair, grabbed the keys to my SUV, and sped over to my parents home.
After typical kiss-on-the-cheek pleasantries with my mom, I informed her I would take the rocking chair home with me. A melodically enhanced ‘halleluiah’ echoed from her vocal chords as I hurried down the creaky basement steps. The chair was draped in an old bed sheet. I stripped away the linen and was floored by the refurbished, solid oak finish that gleamed under the fluorescent lighting.
“Your father and I were going to surprise you with it at the baby shower. I remember that chair being like a best friend to you and thought restoring it would make a great gift. But since the new mommy has a furniture craving, I say you take it now.”
I thanked her with a bone cracking, bear hug embrace that would make a chiropractor proud. I carried the chair to my vehicle and carefully placed it inside. I got home and instructed my wife to cover her eyes as I positioned the chair in our living room.
“Okay, you can look now,” I said, with anticipation.
She joyfully gasped and covered her mouth in euphoric laughter as I guided her to the chair.
“The baby has been uneasy and kicking up a storm this whole week. I can really use the east motion now.”
She slowly sat down and wiggled herself into maternal comfort. She breathed deeply as her eyes slowly closed like a theater curtain. She smiled as she gently rubbed her belly and I can only wonder if Grandpa Fella Storyteller had begun to narrate a wondrous tale to my little one inside.