In an abandoned house in Pennsylvania sits a chair accompanied by a welcoming coat rack. Although dusty, they’re in good condition and offer a dimly lit view of the other side of the basement they sit in. There are questionable colored stains that stripe up the wall in a ladder of presumed house floods and mold. But the chair calls to you, a siren after a ship, and begs for you to sit and acknowledge its existence by using it for the intended purpose. The thick layer of dust proves it’s been ignored for some time, and a moment of pity overcomes you.
The chair and the coat rack scurried to one another on a stormy night, and remain partners in their business.
You sit in the chair, after using a hand to wipe away the dust, which you wipe on the back of your pant leg before sitting down. The house is warmed well by the oil furnace behind you, and the coat rack taps you on the shoulder and offers to take your coat, which you relinquish because you know, and the coat rack knows, it’s too warm to excuse yourself to keep it.
The chair has a perfect level of comfort, and although there are no arms, your own sit comfortably around your body. The door way in front of you is slightly towards the right, you can no longer see down the length of the basement, and after you’ve noticed this, the doorway gets further and further to your right. Your head keeps turning right as you try to process why the fuck the doorway is moving away.
The coat rack gently brings your head straight so as to help you avoid whiplash. The strips of mold and paint and weathered damage climb about together and smooth out to a memory that keeps you awake at night sometimes. The one that randomly slips in there as you dangle on the edge of succumbing to your subconscious. The one where you got your period in Western Civ class, 8th period, in middle school. Where you left a smear mark on the seat and it ran down your leg. Everyone knew what it was, and everyone pointed at laugh.
A working anatomy is hilarious.
You ran and bathed yourself in the bathroom sink. You shoved half a roll of toilet paper in your panties that resembled a crime scene, and you ran home.
The coat rack comforts you with a squeeze on the shoulder.
You can care less now, but the moment of damage from that is you’ll always have tampons and pads everywhere.
It smooths out to later that night when your mother yelled at you for getting your period. She yells at you for ruining your clothes, she can’t buy you anything to replace them. She couldn’t afford to get the products you needed. It was so selfish, getting your period. Your clothes have blood stains on them, and you have to wash them by hand in the sink with brown water to get them out, with a light that flickers overhead. The light that just never seemed to work and you never knew why.
You wake up to find your mother has thrown all of your clothes away as punishment for not taking care of them. The only clothes you own is the t-shirt with the hole in the armpit, and stained fleece pants that are too big for you, and a pair of mis-matching socks. The garbage man has come and gone, and this is what you own now.
You shove toilet paper down your pants, your few favorite books in a bag and you leave. You don’t go to school, you don’t really go anywhere for a while.
The mold appears again, starting in splotches on your face as you walk, and chips away at the memory until it is itself once again.
The doorway comes closer, you try to get up to run to it, but you can’t. The chair won’t let you.
When the furnace is in sight, you grab your coat and run, tripping up the stairs, grabbing at the steps like rungs on a ladder, and explode out of the front door you entered. You fall to your knees in the front yard and throw up. The acid sizzles on your throat and sears your nose as you try to gulp in the air, tears warming your cheeks on a cool evening.
A faceless man walks by, and rubs your back. You don’t know each other, but it feels good to have someone see you suffering.
Your body calms down and you sit up straight, he offers you a cloth handkerchief to wipe your face.
You reach into your coat and pull out a faded, crinkled piece of glossy paper and give it to the man.
“Do you think I look like her?” You ask.
“We are only ever ourselves.” He tells you. He helps you up, and puts an arm around your shoulders. You turn to look back at the house, and there is only a field.
You feel the coat rack gently turn your head straight so as to avoid the whiplash.