Flash: Escaleras de Muertos

Photo by Tony Hernandez on Unsplash

She swore the stairs reached higher the longer she lived in the walkup. Maria straightened her ancient back, catching her breath at the second landing. The bags in her left hand dragged, pulling downward, encouraging her to turn around and never leave the ground again. The right hand gripped a cane. If she didn’t need it, if she could make it to the corner store on her own, she would only need to make the trip every other day.

She was getting too old to make this trip every day.

Only two more flights to go.

Turning the corner on the stone landing, she started the next bank of stairs. One tread, two tread. Move the cane. Only 34 more steps to go.

“Maria, we need to talk.”

The kindly voice sounded above, echoing on the ancient stones of the stairwell. Steadying herself by leaning against the wall, Maria looked up. Step by step, first seeing shoes, then finally a handsome young woman above her in Dia de Muertos makeup. Squinting, Maria reevaluated her initial assessment of makeup on a face to make it look like a skull.

“Hola.” Maria’s voice shaky as a function of age, not facing Death. “Do I have time to put away the groceries?”

“I think you have climbed enough stairs for this lifetime.” Death stood and skipped down the few treads separating them. Offering a hand, white bone but looking soft and sturdy, she asked, “Shall we? You have some friends waiting.”

(words 248; first published 5/26/2019)

4 thoughts to “Flash: Escaleras de Muertos”

  1. On the stairs? That’s rather cruel. Couldn’t she have waited until she was asleep in bed? A much nicer way to go…

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