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Entries by tag: ljidol

The Missing Stair

I stand expectantly at the top of the stairs, one eager eye pressed against the crack between the door and its frame. The sweet smell of chicken and waffles floats up to me, the kind of incense only my grandmother can burn. Yellow morning light bleeds through the lacy curtains staining the white carpet beside the bed that has always been mine, at least since Poppa Bobby died. This upstairs sanctuary will always stay the same if I have anything to say about it.

“Hello darlin’, how you doin’? It’s been a long time…”

Grandma isn’t much of a singer, but it doesn’t matter. The door is still closed and I grip the cold knob in my hand, heart beating as if it’s going to explode. Why am I so jumpy? Breakfast is just downstairs in the kitchen with Grandma and Conway.

“You’re just as lovely as you used to be…”

The old lady with the fruit covered hat smiles at me from her place on the wall next to me. She knows what’s coming and I’d wish she’d share. I never liked that painting: something about those eyes that moved with you. Grandma loved her though. She even named her Ruthie after her oldest sister. I never understood the comparison. Aunt Ruth never would’ve worn that hat.

“Briley,” Grandma calls, pulling me from my senseless revery, “why don’t you come down?”

“Ok…Coming…” I answer, feeling so close and a million miles away.

The knob becomes slippery under my fingertips and I hesitate.

“Don’t go,” Ruthie seems to whisper, “you know what’s down there.”

I refuse to listen to a painting.

I pull back the door, wondering briefly what strange dreams had haunted me the previous night. Why else would I be so jumpy? I’d bet ten bucks Ruthie was prominently featured.

Warm air and bright lights envelop me as I reach out my right foot.

Then I tumble. Ruthie laughs and the scent of incense disappears.

And I’m in my bed, my real bed in my Kentucky home.

And I cry…because the stair is always missing and I never make it down to her.

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