In a stairwell

October 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

The sound of footsteps reverberating on the stairs.

This space hasn’t changed in perhaps fifty years – of course the mats outside the doors, two to a landing, they’ll have changed, and the names on the postboxes in the entrance hall. Not the colour of the walls, though, still that dull off-mint that mumbles about institutions and refusing to remember. And not, too, the light that seems to age as it falls from that high distant skylight, bouncing off the banisters like a suicide bid.

That bottom step shallower than the rest, still catching out new arrivals, interrupting their rhythm as they hurry through the communal space to where their personal lives lie safe and secure behind the dark wood doors.

When the front door slams, as it just did, all of those lives feel the dull thud, all the glasses on the tables chink and the saucepans on the hobs clatter, the nervous young woman on the second floor glances up at ornaments she’d balanced on windowsills, a middle aged man above her pauses in conversation and momentarily loses his train of thought, and the old bedridden woman on the first floor flinches, groans softly and rolls over to find an easier space on which to rest her weight.

Dust motes swirling in the tumbling atrium light seem to hang, waiting for the next event after the footsteps fade to the slam of a door on the fourth floor and the muffled sounds of a half-audible row.


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