“I used to live here,” I tell the old woman who’s opening the door, just a crack, to look me up and down, a brass chain her only protection from me. A little boy peeks his head between her legs, curious about the white lady on the stoop.
From behind the curtain, she watched me slowly advance up twenty-odd uneven steps, the metal railing wobbly under my hand.
Each step is a deep record of the past, limestone crowded with crinoid stems and trilobites. These are the steps my brother and I pored over with magnifying glasses, played games on with the children next door, moving from bottom to top by guessing which fist held the stone. Before my brother died. Before Mother washed his cowboy sheets for the last time then locked his bedroom door.
Her forehead furrows. “Can you come back tomorrow? My son will be home.”
But this is where I learned to fly, I want to tell her, the bedroom closet door a portal to my dreams. This is where I learned to read, to feed a dog, how to wash blood from my underwear.
Her hair, like mine, is steely gray. Tomorrow I could be dead, I want to say. My fingers are cold, my stomach is churning to rock. My eyelids drop. I shift my cane to my other hand, turn to walk back down those treacherous steps, hear the soft clink of the chain falling from its clutch.
work appears in The Ekphrastic Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Intima, Thimble Literary Magazine, London Reader, SurVision, Rogue Agent, Popshot Quarterly, The South Shore Review, The Fortnightly Review, Feral, The Phare, Sledgehammer Lit, Flash Boulevard, New World Writing, and elsewhere. She has several Pushcart nominations and one for Best Microfiction 2022.