This story came to my mind ... The red staircaseThere it was! The red staircase! Camila walked the last few steps towards it and stopped. She put her hand on the stair-rail and tried to catch her breath. Her back was hurting. How often had she climbed these stairs? Breathing was hard these days. She with a groan she put her heavy grocery bag on the second step. Then she fumbled in the right pocket of her black coat and extracted the little blue handkerchief with her initials on it to wipe her face. She raised her head and stared up the stairs, and fixed her eyes on the little blue door. The door that lead to their apartment. The door that lead to the unpreventable. In the 40 years she lived here she never could have imagined that there would be a day that she didn't want to go through that door.The first day she saw this red staircase and that blue door was a happy day. Forty years, thirty-six weeks and three days ago Tony had led her to this staircase. He was almost running, pulling her behind him. “This will be our home!” He had said, his face beaming. She smiled thinking about that day. She loved that man to the moon and back! So much that her heart ached when she thought about him now. Two weeks later they had married in the little church down the street. After the party Toni had carried her up the thirty-four stairs to the apartment. She had laughed, because his face had turned awfully red by the time they had gotten to the little blue door. But he had been determined to carry her over the threshold. And he had done exactly that. They had been mostly happy in this apartment. Sure, there had been tough days. Days of desperation and grief, when the war had started or she had lost their first child. Days of poverty, when Toni had lost his job. But mostly there had been days of happiness. They had brought up three boys in that little home. The boys had turned into good men. What was there to complain about? Today there was no Tony to carry her up the stairs, she had to make the journey herself. And at the end of the stairs she would open the little blue door and she would tell Tony the disturbing news. She had to tell him, what he didn’t want to hear. She gathered her bag and pulled herself up the steps. It was a painstaking journey. Not only because her back and her knees hurt, but also because of the pain in her heart. The pain that she had to tell Tony the bitter truth that they had to sell the apartment. Finally she reached the little blue door. In the second she was to put the key in the keyhole, the door opened from the inside. Tony stood in front of her. His face was beaming. She just stared at him. How could she tell him the news, if he was so happy?In that moment he took her bag from her hand and scooped her up in a big hug, swung her around. “Camilla, Camilla!” he chanted. “Tony, are you crazy, let me down!” she ordered. Laughing, he let her cautiously down. “What makes you so happy?” She managed to say trying to get back her composure. “Haha,” he laughed. “Roberto has called!” He replied if that would explain everything. Roberto was their oldest son. Camilla shrugged her shoulders and looked at him with big eyes, that asked in silence what that meant. Tony was still grinning like a cat sitting in whipped cream. After a dramatic 2 minutes he finally replied. “He bought a house and he wants us to live with him!” Stunned, Camilla stared at the man she loved. A ton of weight fell off her chest. She leaned on the wall and in relief she slid down that the wall and laughed and laughed until she could no longer breathe. What a happy day.
Enjoyed that happy story. Here is one I wrote but could only post belatedly:They lived upstairs from me. Up ten red steps which, if I timed it exactly right, she would climb as I stood there, fumbling with my key, still flushed from our embarrassed greeting followed by the awkward shuffle that allowed her to pass on up. Usually her red coat would flap past me, dragging on the steps, dislodging dust that floated down around me. Perhaps she would have a further shuffle round the sleek grey Persian from across the road. Sometimes, at her door, she would fumble too and we would tut self-consciously at our synchronised failure to operate locks. Other times she would kick the door, bags in both hands, and it would be opened for her with a brusque greeting. Once, just once, she had rolled her eyes at me before turning inside.I heard when they argued. Never anything physical - I'd have been up there like a shot - just endless bickering and sniping. I heard them make up too. I knew his type. I heard him get up around ten, stumbling over last night's wine bottles. Silence usually meant he was painting but more than once I heard a woman's voice up when she was at work. Laughter on the red stairs followed by frantic shushing. No wonder he greeted me with a wink and a too hearty slap on the back. Boys in it together. I loathed him.I'd been out drinking myself that night, down at the cantina with the gang from San Lorenzo. I sat on the edge of the bench, had a few beers, put up with a few jokes, just for a little company. So I was home late, maybe midnight, and there she was, sitting on the steps pulling apart one of the flowers from the window box, rubbing her eyes furiously and streaking them with brick dust. Their door was shut but the light was on. I stood in the shadows, watching her. I jumped too when the window was flung open. "Come on, don't be a damned fool!' He leaned out and I could see he was bare chested. "It was only once. She means nothing...nothing!"She threw a handful of petals at him and turned her back. The window slammed shut. I stepped forwards into the light and looked up at her. She turned her head away and closed her eyes. It took me an age to find my key. I sensed movement and then she was beside me. Cold fingers took the key from mine and in one swift movement, pink tongue out in concentration, she had it open. Her look of bemused irritation melted quickly into uncertainty. I went inside and held the door open for her, trying not to look terrified, not looking at her at all. A soft brush round my ankles as the Persian came to seek out its bowl of milk. A moment later she followed. I heard the door open upstairs. "Bitch!" A sound like a muffled fight then her red coat slapped down the stairs and the door slammed again.I didn't turn the light on. We stood in darkness listening to the creaking of floorboards and the smashing of easels and bottles. "I'm glad you're not up there." My voice was a hoarse whisper. "Me too." She moved closer. "I hate those stairs."She never climbed them again.