Anyone who has ever occupied a second-floor bedroom in an old Cape Cod house knows the perils associated with the 2 a.m. trip to the solitary (ground-floor) bathroom. Unless you're the type of person who not only is cognizant at that hour, but also keeps a scaled mental floor plan and a running catalogue of sneaky objects lying on the floor, mishap is inevitable. Toes jammed on piano legs and suddenly screeching dogs are mere inconveniences, however, the throbbing actually seems to induce sleep.
It's misjudging the stairs - those creaky, unforgiving steps with treads worn free of varnish by many moons worth of treading - that really kills you. Heads bumped and fannies bruised from late night tumbles become routine occurrences. Family members awaken with a jolt, lights flick on, and the entire neighborhood is roused by the dogs' howls. However, it's the slightly less dramatic, decidedly more unpleasant and unsettling feeling of forgetting the last step that will ruin a good night's sleep every time.
You've just awakened from another Oh-wow-I'm-leaving-home-for-college-soon dream, and decide it's time for a trip downstairs. Step, creak. Tip-toe, tip-toe, CREAK. You've reached the landing. Down you go - that wasn't too bad, you're back on solid ground. You step - BOOM - across what you thought was the floor. Just for a second, your stomach drops and your heart jumps into your throat, as the floor that has always supported you is suddenly missing, and you plummet loudly to a new, unfamiliar surface. Besides feeling as graceless as a rhino, you've been jarred from sleepy familiarity with a nano-second burst of adrenalin that will make returning to sleep little more than a dream. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.