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The Devil's Chair
My grandmother's solicitor wrote that I'd inherited some savings, some stocks, her jewelry and the Devil's Chair.
When my eyes reached the final item, I gasped aloud. Of course I should have realized it would be mine - I was named for her after all.
The Devil's Chair is an ebony monstrosity - a fusion of 19th century Orientalism with British Gothic Revival. Its heavy wood back is carved into the shape of a writhing dragon (or devil) with ivory eyes and jet pupils so black they shine red. The seat is hard, uncompromising ebony wood, polished to an almost obsidian black. I've never seen anyone sit on it. I doubt anyone has since my grandfather died.
It's not used.
The chair arrived Thursday. I sat down beside it, mindful of its history.
'Sarah Jane, that's enough! Into the parlor and sit on the black chair. Don't you dare move.'
'No, no please! Not on the Devil's Chair!'
Sarah twisted out of his grasp, only to receive a smack on the seat of her skirt as he pulled her back to the parlor.
'Shameful, willful girl! Hush right now or you'll have something more to cry about.'
Sarah Jane hushed. She sat still and straight, the dragon's teeth pressing against her back.
He returned, carrying the brush. Ebony, it matched the chair. The Devil's fire.
She saw it, eyes widening.
'No! I'm sorry!'
'As well you might be.'
At once, he sat on the chair and lay Sarah Jane across his knees, her skirts above her waist, bottom high and bared. The brush paused as if admiring her white skin, before beginning its blistering rhythm. She howled and kicked, begging forgiveness.
At last, the hairbrush paused.
'I forgive you, my Sarah Jane.'
'Thank you. Thank y-you, sir.'
'Now you must name your penance. Prove you're sorry.'
Sarah Jane sobbed out the required words.
'Please punish me, sir. Spank me hard that I may atone for my willful and unhappy ways.'
'As you wish.'
He spanked the nineteen-year-old as though she were a small child. When he finished there was no willfulness left in the eyes of his young bride. Love shimmered through her tears.
I sat with my eyes closed, remembering the Sarah Janes. My grandmother's grandmother. My grandmother as well. Both had history with the Devil's Chair. And now, the chair was mine.
The sound of the garage door opener made me jump. I opened the chair's hinged seat. An ebony brush rested on a nest of yellowed silk.
From the kitchen, Matt's voice called his greeting.
'Sarah, I'm home, sweetie.'
All our unhappy nights, the cold words and icy silences accused me. The Devil's heat could melt them and make my eyes shine into his handsome face.
My grandmother understood. She'd even told me.
It was time to explain to him that my full name is Sarah Jane. The Devil's Chair and fire belonged to me and were now his to use.
Author's note: This story is fiction. The chair, however, is real. It lives in the front parlor at my parents' house. I was afraid of it as a child, as were my cousins and my mother before me. No one ever sits in it if they can help it. But that might be because it is uncomfortable as well as scary.
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