The Stairwell

It’s very early and very cold, and she’s pulling her leash tight around the landing to the final steps. Suddenly, she stops.

A man is lying there. A few burned out candles by his face.

She growls.

He’s startled and sits up. He’s young, with a scraggly beard and weary eyes, and lights the cigarette he already has pressed in his lips.

“We used to sit here and smoke,” he says. “But now, she’s gone.”

Gone? As in, dead? Or has she left him? I can’t think of what to say.

“Can I get by? My dog has to pee.”


We knew the day would come, and it did. Then they were just, gone. Just, not there. Quickly followed by an urgent need to clear their things away. Drawers and drawers full of their daily ephemera. A straightened paper clip, some coins there, and who needs this many pencils?

They saved and socked away the endless random details of random days, and I’m looking at it all… And I have no attachment to it, and I feel bad.

I keep a small box of their things stashed in a corner though. Just in case. Something tactile.

So they’re not forever erased.