I’m at the top of the stairs, hand on the cold wooden bannisters, chill air swirling round my legs. Long way down. On my own, away from home, no memorylayers here. Overview, over heads, flowers on green grass play beneath my bare feet. Wriggling toes dart from under my night dress.
Adults downstairs, outside, elsewhere. I don’t know why I’m here, so much I don’t know. Grannie loves me, that I know, safe here.
“She’s had it.”
“Another girl,” drifts up the stairs.
Dig my toes in the carpet, listen. Shouldn’t be there, where’s mum, grip the wood and wait for someone to notice me as the smell of toast rises.
Slip three years, another house, another bannister, white paint, top of the stairs legs furled against the cold, mix of perfume, wine and smoke rises, dinner party, we tasted the chocolate mousse.
Louise and I, top of the stairs, shouldn’t be there, carpet rough against my thighs, heap of fur coats on the hall, clatter of silver, of glass.
“We have to hide if someone comes out,” I tell her, skirl of white nightdresses as we giggle our way back to our room. Heavy footsteps on the stairs, “Go to sleep, girls, go to sleep.”
Too tall now, no bannisters in this flat, no chance to look down on the adult world because I’m in there, part of it, and I miss being small, loss of secrets, loss of looking on, curled up in the back of the car, stories in my head, night darkening as my father drives us home.
For the Book Analyst writing group challenge