April 18, 2013 Comments Off on Fourteen by Nathan Good
Susanne did not look at the stairs anymore. She lived exclusively downstairs, and she wore the same clothes every day, sitting naked whilst they took a spin in the washing machine each morning.
Nobody noticed. Nobody really looked at Susanne any more.
“Oh darling,” they’d say. “Oh sweetheart . . . If there is anything at all I can do.”
They’d say those things, but they certainly didn’t feel the terror that she felt. The way that those fourteen little steps made her feel was unfathomable.
Susanne slept on the sofa, but she didn’t really sleep. She’d lie awake and shiver in the dark. The house had always exhaled deeply at night, and she was familiar with its creaks and rattles, the timbre of each and every step on the staircase. Now Susanne heard nothing. The stairs, previously so vocal, were as silent and empty as the rest of the house. She pulled herself deeper into the folds of her husband’s favourite jumper and screwed her eyes into puckered slits.
She found the jumper soon after she had returned from the hospital. It was draped over the banister at the bottom of the staircase. Her husband had hung it there when he had come in earlier that night. It was blue, woven loosely from thick strands of lamb’s wool. It had been a birthday present the year earlier.
He’d been whistling. He never whistled unless. . .
She’d heard him come in, pulled back his side of the duvet, and waited for the creaks of the staircase: one, ten, twelve. . .
Twelve, not fourteen. Twelve and then an orchestral cacophony of crumbling and snapping.
Susanne stood suddenly, left her clothes to finish their daily washing cycle, and made her way to the hallway. She placed a hand on the banister. It felt strong and thick. It was not the rotten, woodworm-riddled skeleton she had come to think of it as. Up on the landing, the sun was shining through a window. It cast a dancing pool of light on one wall. She set that as her focal point. There were fourteen steps ahead of her, and with trepidation, she stepped forward onto the first of them.
© 2012 Nathan Good
Nathan Good is a writer from London and Essex. He writes flash fiction whilst not working, living or watching a seemingly endless stream of television boxsets. He has been published in numerous print and digital publications including an upcoming story in the anthology Lover’s Lies published by Arachne press. You can follow his misadventures @Na7hanGood or nathan-good.blogspot.com