Down the Spiral Staircase

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
He sits there, the cold metal of a pole digging into his back. Step after step, the staircase stretching down in endless spirals before him. He does not know how long he had been sitting there, for there are no windows in this small endless staircase of his, no way to tell time, no connection what so ever to the outside world. But that is why he comes here, why he is content to sit on the freezing bars of metal day after day, week after week, because here no one can find him, his staircase is invisible; unknown to all but him, or to those who care to look.
*****
The next day, as always, he returns, counting the steps as he retraces the all to familiar pathway up to the 125th. There he sits, only slightly out of breath, and leans back against the metal bar that runs up the staircase, holding it up. It is a minute before the idea comes to him, only a minute of time passes as he sits there thinking. And then he makes the decision. Reaching into one of the deep pockets of his cloak, he brings out a single piece of chalk, which he raises till the point is just lightly touching the pole. He hesitates only a moment before pushing down, his wrist moving slowly in the familiar pattern. Finally, he stands up, shoving his hands back into his pockets and depositing the small piece of chalk back back into them. Then he turns, and without once looking back over his shoulder, he leaves, back down the staircase, to face whatever lies on the outside. For his staircase protects him from the world, just as it protects him from himself.
*****
The next time their paths cross, he does not enter his sanctuary, merely stands in from of it, thinking; of his life, his staircase, the simple flower drawn on the pole, right above step 125. Finally, he reaches out a hand and lays it on the cold smooth metal, feeling the old building shudder ever so slightly as he does, as if reacting to his touch. A small smile crosses his face and he nods once, acknowledging what the staircase has done for him, all that it has shared, the memories, happy, sad, painful, all blended into one. And then he leaves, knowing that from this day forward, any thought of step 125 will be very rare indeed.
*****
Many years later, a young man enters the now empty clearing. He looks around, the expectant look slowly fading from his face. He takes in the grass, the trees, the single remaining foundation of a building, torn down long ago. For a moment he just stands there, squeezing his eyes shut and imagining; imagining the one thing that had ever truly mattered in his life, the one thing he had known he could count on. But it is gone, taking with it everything he has sworn to forget, his past, the flower, step 125. So once again, he turns away, ignoring the single tear that runs down his cheek. Letting out a small sigh, he takes one last look over his shoulder, and leaves.





Join the Discussion

This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

K0nv1kT said...
Aug. 27, 2009 at 12:34 am
yay doomwald! its awesome. rly fun to read. love the attention to detail.
 
TheGuyFromThatMovieWithTheAliensThatWentToDVD said...
Aug. 23, 2009 at 12:19 am
I am a big fan of this piece. It is a poignant coming of age story, and is carefully phrased as to elicit emotion from the reader. Childish imagery, like crude chalk drawings, are used to illustrate the metaphor. The staircase could stand in for a number of things; parents, watching over with you, becoming your friend as you develop, moving out from them, and finally death, or something like an old, childhood toy, or even a childhood friend. It stays away from the cliches of many such pieces... (more »)
 
broccoliraab said...
Aug. 21, 2009 at 9:10 pm
I find this emotionally gripping, yet in a subtle sort of way. The writer allows the reader space -- in time, actions, metaphor -- to experience along with the protagonist. It’s refreshing not to be pushed, and I feel this restraint allows the full emotion of the reader’s experience to develop. -- terrific job. I can smell the chalk, feel the cold and the balm of time.
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback