View from the Stairs
Lucy Marinelli (Griffith University, Australia, and Macquarie University, Australia)
It’s dark but I know every stair. I know where to step so they don’t cre…eee…ak. So Daddy doesn’t hear. I know where to sit so I can see him in his chair.
From my spot I can’t see his face except when he turns, leans over. Pushes his glass across the side table. Picks up the bottle. Unscrews the lid. Pours. Then I glimpse his face, glowing in the light of the TV. His cheeks are all droopy and there are dark circles under his eyes. Red streaks the white parts of his eyeballs like he needs to cry. Which makes me want to cry. But mostly I see the back of his head above the chair, his hair thinner on top than at the sides, his neck stiff.
He pours the browny-coloured liquid again. I’ve lost count of the pours. How many sips he’s taken. Seen the liquid first at the top of the label, then creeping, creeping down.
I jolt awake, my head against the banister. My tired eyes pop open. He’ll have heard, turned around. But he didn’t. Hasn’t. I shouldn’t be out of bed. Shouldn’t be watching him from the stairs, but when I went to the loo and saw his bed empty, I had to make sure he was still here.
Up the stairs I go, slowly, on tip toes. Past Claire’s room with its door open just a crack. She lets out a cute baby snore with each breath that has me smiling, though my smile’s sad. Past the bathroom. Almost past the open door of Dad’s room with his big bed ruffled on only one side. I go in. Stand on Mum’s side of the bed. The book she was reading is still there, on the bedside table, open at the page she was on.
I retreat. Pick up the face powder on the way out. To take the shine off your nose, she’d say, and dab the powder puff to my face with a laugh.
In bed, I put it under my pillow—smell its light rose perfume on my fingers—see Mum behind my heavy lids.
And drift. Dream.
Lucy’s an Australian writer currently living in Bali. She has a 1st Class Honours in Creative Research from Griffith University and is studying for a Master of Creative Writing at Macquarie University. She has numerous articles published in the US online magazine, Taste of Home, and a recently ghostwritten piece appeared in Forbes Womens Media. She facilitates writers groups and works with individual writers as a mentor and in helping to access and heal trauma through their writing. Fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry are her main modes within her own writing, often with at least a slight dark and somewhat experimental tone.