The Spiral Staircase

The prompt I chose from those provided for Inspiration Monday is Falling up the Stairs.  I’m new at this but, here I go …

The stairs wound upwards in a tight spiral; With no landings on which to rest and catch her breath, she was already tiring.  And the banister – the fact that it was particularly well polished was not lost on her.  “I really should have paid more attention”, she reprimanded herself.

The ad in the back of The Herald had been obscure:

Thrill of a lifetime
Riches to be reaped
Wealth to be won
Only the vigorous need apply
Must be respectful, truthful and discerning
Skilled in empathy, modesty, honesty, and determination.

 She quickly pulled her hand from the bannister as another applicant slid past, the rush of wind blowing cool and damp. “I am not discerning enough”, she thought. “This may be a mistake.”

At the outset she imagined the thrill of the ride; imagined her laughter and squeals.  The steep ascent hadn’t detered her and she had set out with sneering confidence. She now suspected that the airy spaciousness in the foyer below had been purposefully deceiving. The closeness of the stairwell felt restrictive and more claustrophobic with each additional step.    In  hopeful anticipation she looked up but the light was dim and she could no longer see beyond the next few steps.  Her foot landed heavily on the tread. The distance had been so deceiving.

She gave grudging respect to those who had warned her for she had obviously not thought this through.  If she was to be honest, she had not thought about it at all. It had been all about the thrill.  Turning back wasn’t permitted; the course once chosen had to be followed to the end.  It was one of the rules.  With resolve, she gripped the banister and pushed herself up another step, and another step.

So eager and confident at the outset she now felt small and insignificant.  And she felt the cold finger of fear.  It was unfamiliar, yet she recognized it.  She had seen it in the faces of others but had never understood, nor even tried to understand.  It poked at her and her stomach knotted and her fingers curled tighter around the rail.  It had been a big mistake.

She looked up again to see a pale rim of light encircling the opening at the top.  Despite this, she had to acknowledge the lethargy that was cramping in her legs.  She lacked depth perception in the grey light; she could no longer tell how close to or how far she was from the dim opening above.  The realization she might not make it swelled suddenly within her.  Her breath became laboured and she faltered, her hand on the rail the only thing preventing her fall. The sound of another step reverberated within the constricted space.

She felt it first, the dry delicate touch of the light on her skin.  Her heart hammering, she emerged through the portal and her wings billowed with the upsweep of air.  She relaxed and let all her weight rest on the current that swept her upwards.

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