There I go. Scritch, scratch. Can anyone else hear the faint jots and scraps that scrabble through my head? When I am dead, will the pathologist see a muddle of words and lines, started, forgotten, or discarded, that etched their way into the soft tissue of my brain. A pattern of rivulets amongst the moist and grey of my frontal lobe, carrying notions and thoughts along a journey through my cortex, leaving an impression, of sorts.
After nearly twenty-two years, we are going to decorate the hallway and landing. They last saw new paint in August 1999 when the UK experienced its last total eclipse of the sun. (Not an event one could forget).
The old worn carpet has been pulled up and the stairs are as naked as the day they were built. I look at the bare boards and I step carefully to avoid spiky gripper nails and attend to my rise and descent with extra care and concentration, my hand gripping the flaking painted bannister.
An arduous mountain face, rugged duvet-ridden slide, steps up to the land of nod, squealing escape from the monster, or at times heroic path to the monster, the stairs have supported our tread for many years. We have carried newborns up them, and held our breath after a tumble down them.
Morning light has crept briefly through the landing window for over ninety years and fallen humbly, dusting useful illumination on them -no spotlights ,the stairs wouldn’t want a fuss. They would say: ‘We are just stairs, nothing special, just doing our job.’
I still like sitting on the top step, before the half-landing, surveying the realm of hall below. Just as I still like curling my legs under me on a chair. But my step is a bit slower and heavier these days – I rarely jog upstairs. A bungalow I suppose is the eventual sensible option. But the thought of a barrack road of low-rooves and shingled gardens depresses me. Besides, I’m not sure I can live without stairs.