& Generational Stairway

Here’s a piece of non fiction, I wrote senior year in college. This is still one of my favorites. I don’t write a lot of non fiction but when I do it makes me feel so transparent. I wouldn’t have started writing non fiction if it wasn’t for my professor who pushed and pushed. I would tell her stories and she’d be like “Please write about it. You have interesting true stories too.”  I just like fiction, I guess I don’t like talking about myself that’s why fiction is so awesome.
(Me & my brothers when we were young; I’m the middle child)

Standing in the front hallway the focal point was always the dark wooden panels that went all the way up the stairs. The texture was smooth and if the sun was beaming in you could sometimes see your reflection. They only stayed that shiny because my mother was constantly insisting that me and my two brothers cleaned it. She would hand us a bottle of Old English furniture polish and a rag and told us we had to do our share. Sometimes we’d clean it really quickly, but most of the time it seemed to take forever.

Pappy’s house fascinated me. Every time I walked down those stairs, I’d stop and gaze at the huge stain glass window located near the first landing. That landing was also, where I passed out during a freak medical accident. After being treated like a human guinea pig no one ever figured out why I passed out. It was just something that happened occasionally. The window panel was so thick you couldn’t see out of it and no one could see in it.  It was splashed with so many shades of yellow, blue, green, and red. I loved to feel the smooth cold glass window against my fingers. Even on a warm summer day, that window was guaranteed to be cool.  Who knew years later my uncle would let the house fall to pieces and a thief would steal the window.  At least that’s what he told us. This same uncle caught the house on fire as a kid because he wanted to make a tent out of his blankets and a window fan. The same uncle stood at the very bottom of the stairs and washed my little brother’s mouth out with soap because he would curse. Kids couldn’t say bad words.

These were the stairs that we would use, wrapped in blankets and dragging each other down them as kids. We thought that was fun. My mother thought we were crazy; it was exciting to play on the stairs. The same stairs we would go down every day to go to school.

These stairs had been around for so long but they were far from worn. They had connected more than generations but held a family together. My mother walked down these same stairs when she went to school. She’d smear her finger prints on the wooden siding not knowing that her kids finger prints would cover hers.

These stairs don’t have any foot prints or finger prints anymore. They don’t get much traffic since my pap had passed away and left the house to my uncle. I imagine they are cold and lack the love and laughter. They yearn for attention. I would love the opportunity to polish the wooden panels now, a chance to run my fingers over its smoothness.

The stairs seemed to symbolize my pap. He was always connecting the family and holding them together, that’s why his house was always a safe place for anyone. Even if you weren’t family his house treated you so. It was a family treasure so polished and bright. Like pappy, that house loved everyone. Now no one is there to love it.

My professor was always insisting that I put more emotion into my non fiction. It was hard but the last assignment I handed in was finally the one that had me completely transparent. I presented that piece at a conference. It made me cry writing it and it made me cry reading it. It was about growing up and being teased by other people who were black, because I was darker than them. Whoever said words don’t hurt never met a cruel kid. I shall post that one of these days.

Have a wonderful day

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