Saturday, June 18, 2005

edge of night

My father had talked about putting a dormer, or at least a skylight, over the top of the stairs, but it had never happened. He'd talked about putting dormers on both sides and maybe making a bathroom upstairs but that clearly wasn't ever going to happen. It was an accomplishment to nail two-by-fours together and sheetrock to those to make walls and to put some insulation in the roof and sheetrock under the rafters. It was a big accomplishment. There had been three of us in that one bedroom, with my brother on the couch in the living room, my parents in the tiny
bedroom behind the kitchen and my grandmother in the little room up front by the porch that was probably the nicest. Now my brother was gone but the rest of us had our own rooms, Alice at the back of the attic and me at the front, and my grandmother, she'd be gone in a year or two, that was obvious, but the stairs were still totally dark unless you turned on the hall light at the top or the light on the wall at the bottom, neither of which I'd do because then I'd give myself up.

If my dad was home my mom would sleep. If he was gone she wouldn't. Not really. Every siren that she heard would drag her from bed. I'd hear her steps as she'd move across her room and look out the back, then move down the hall, through the dining room, the living room, to the windows on the street. What frightened her? Did she imagine her husband dead? That they were coming for one of us? That fire would spread through the crowded alleys where wooden houses sat six feet apart?

What in her childhood or adulthood had given her these fears? I'd listen. I'd sneak through the dark and down to the turn in the stairs. I'd wait for her to return to her room. Then I'd retreat to my own window, and stare out across a silent street, with maybe a dim flash of red light moving somewhere on the periphery.

© 2004 by Ira Socol__________________________________


newspell said...

thank heavens... i visit at xanga, but it's so busy. i actually get lost, lol. i'm not knocking it, i'm really not. i love your writing, and here i feel the subtle breeze of your words as they gently flow from the screen.

just sayin'... :)

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