Stepping into the hallway toward the stairs
I hear the muted click of my rubber edged heels against the gleaming oak floor. This house though now too much for me has so many memories. The scuff over by the base trim we made while I helped him bring the dresser upstairs.
“I got it, I got it!” I kept saying.
The wall ended up getting it as my fingers finally let go.
He would have been frustrated, but since we were making a bend, my scuff ended up distracting him as momentum carried his edge into the wall directly across from me. I take my hand and follow the gouge, still unpainted.
Sliding my fingers along the punctured wallboard, from afar it has looked like a painting error, or a heavy brush stroke resulting in a dimpled line along the wall. Staring at it now I could see the chips of paper hanging tenuously on the chalky plaster beneath. Each one perilously close to falling free from their ‘home’.
There is nothing that doesn’t remind me of his words.
“I love you.”
“I can’t wait to come home to see you.”
His smile, some would call it lazy, like his mouth wasn’t sure it should entirely comply with the request.
I loved it.
I loved how his eyes would brighten just before his lips would start to change shape.
I always knew that our fight was over, or he gave in when those eyes brightened. The smile was always the chocolate syrup on my own personal sundae. He would let me hug him for indeterminate amounts of time. Some of our friends would make comments, like “get a room” or “really? Again?”
I just liked the feel of him holding me.
Fighting back my tears, though not being very successful, I continued on down the stairs.
These steps shouldn’t be a big deal, I have run, jumped and nearly slid down them so many times in the last year. It feels like I’m slipping now. That the steps themselves have morphed into a slide that will take me away, away from safety, away from our home. The end of the slide is unknown, it’s black, thick, and hard to breathe.
Each step echoes lightly, the oak treads recently refinished by his very hands. It’s as though I’m ripping each tread off the stairs, almost taking his work away from him.
Why does each step feel so final?
My left hand goes to my ear, and habitually wraps stray hair around it.
The knoll post is approaching, I hesitantly approach it. I reach out to touch it one more time. My hand graces the beauty and smoothness. The post that anchors the stairs.
It’s round, natural grain seems to stream into my eyes, as the sun hits the blond clear coat. I move my hand and the change in position splays shadows over my body.
The final step, the door stands in front of me, imposing, judging me.
I reach out, and grasp hold of the knob, the last barrier to my exit. The old knob normally would creak in resistance to the twisting motion, today greets me in silence. I pull slightly, and the sun streams into its new opening. Stepping onto my porch, I continue. Standing straight, looking good for the part I have to take.
Outside, starting over again.