Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Three o'clock in the morning

I should have put the light on.

I should have put the light on, but there's an unspoken rule at 3.00am - keep it as dark as possible, don't wake him, don't wake yourself.

So I leave the switch alone and feel my way around the edge of the bed, safely past the corner of the bedstead that regularly bruises my right knee, across the room and out of the door. Three steps past our wall of books; no reaching out, for fear of bringing the piles of paperbacks crashing to the floor. Then the start of the white wooden bannister and the top of the stairs.

With one hand stretching out for the rail, and the other for the wall, I move a foot forward until it's hovering in mid-air above the step I'm sure is there. I lower it slowly, oh so carefully, until I feel the graze of carpet beneath my toes. Two steps more and I've reached the turn of the stairs. It comes too soon, I was almost certain there were three steps here, but the jarring through my leg tells me I've tried to walk through a space that isn't there.

I should have put the light on.

I should have put the light on when I miscounted the steps; reclaimed my confidence in the house, in myself. But I carry on, arm stretching out for the bannister on my left, the sleeve of my dressing gown lightly brushing the wall to my right, balancing between them and once again reaching out for the fall of the step.

And as I hover at the top, I see it. As clear as day. No falling away of the stairs; just falling. A helpless headlong hurtle down; my elbow finding the hard wood of the bannister, my back scraping against the edge of a step; then another; then another, finally coming to a halt as my foot strikes hard into the glass panel of the front door.

Lying there, my leg turned at an angle I've never seen before, my back feeling like it's been attacked by a cheese-grater, the darkness seems blacker than ever. Somewhere above my head is the light switch, but it's too high, I can't reach it.

I see it all.

Then I put the light on, and continue down the stairs.

17 comments:

Hillary said...

I always see the worst that could happen. As you say, it's the little things, the small decisions.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

That sort of thing makes for a stiff and sore morning.

ND Mitchell said...

Really clever piece of writing. I love the vivid description of the "fall". The back feeling like its been attacked by a cheese-grater part is brilliant. I actually fell today whilst out an RSPB wildlife sanctuary (D'oh)-I was trying to "help" my son down a muddy ridge and I fell onto a tree trunk and your description sums up exactly how my back feels just now!! As ever, so well written.

Joanne Noragon said...

Saved by the forseen.

Nari said...

I was holding my breath the entire time. I'm glad you turned the light on, in your mind as well as the one on the wall.

Anne said...

This could mean so many things; from the literal sense to the most metaphysical one. Like always, you managed to describe what could be a daily event into one that is utterly full of meaning.

Shea Goff said...

genius.

raymond alexander kukkee said...

A wonderful piece of writing! Painful, but wonderful!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oh, my. Having fallen a few times lately (though not so dramatically) I was getting upset on your behalf. So glad you switched on the light! (Also, as I rehab my broken leg I think every day of your post about standing up to put on one's undies.) :-)

Philip said...

Put that light out.

Starlight said...

It seems that, in theory, you know very well where you should and shouldn't step. :) I hope you didn't hurt yourself.

Bill Dameron said...

And this is exactly why I live in a one story home. Well, that and because that is all we could afford.

Technogran said...

My heart was in my mouth there for a moment Sharon! It'll be me actually doing this as my slippers are far too big and keep slipping off my feet as I descend our stairs. The times I tell myself to get a new pair but I suppose I'll wait until I'm laid prone in a hospital bed....

Lady Jennie said...

I thought it was real. Yikes.

Baglady said...

Love this piece. As someone who runs scenarios in her head I completely understand your vision of a scraped and broken Sharon at the foot of the stairs. You were right to put the light on.

Fab.

Jacksquatch Detangled said...

Okay...where's your next post! Addicted!

Shopgirl said...

A sense of fear, fatigue and suspense well conveyed in this piece. I'm a frequent 3am waker and walker, so am somewhat familiar with the sensation. Thank you for sharing...