Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Stairs

Deena put on her hat—the ridiculous one covered in fake flowers, the one that was floppy as hell—and stood at the top of the stairwell.  The scar on her left cheek glinted in sunlight that slanted from the rectangular skylight.  She inhaled.

Suspense.  Exhilaration.  That's what she wanted.

And if you were standing beside her, you'd notice the grandfather clock at the bottom next to the front door.  You'd see the pile of shoes down there, the white ruffled curtains around the window, the yellow stains in the carpet.  Most likely you'd descend the staircase as you would any other day.

But Deena was different.

Two seconds into her exhalation, she leapt like a gleeful frog off the lip of that top step and reveled, ever so briefly, in the whoosh until she smashed.  The landings, of course, were always a problem.  This time she landed heels first onto the step with the skid marks on it, second one from the bottom, and fell on her back against the hard edges behind.

Tick.  Tock.  Tick.  Tock.

There was a knock.  "Where's my hat?" she gasped.  It had flown off mid-jump and come to rest beside her head.

Alfred entered through the front door.  Still sprawled over the stairs, she put on her hat.  "Oh, it's you!" she said.  "I haven't seen you in years."

He stroked his bushy mustache.  "Been a while," he said.  "I see you still leave your door unlocked just like you always did."

"What have you been doing?" she winced when she sat up.

"Mostly lying."

"Hah.  Well, people will believe anything."

He thought for a moment.  "I'm broke, you know."

"Me too," she said.  "I think my back is broke."

Alfred closed the door and nodded at the grandfather clock.  "It's seven.  I've got lotsa time."

"No, it's not seven.  It's six!" Deena said.  Thus began their staring contest.

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