FlashFic: The Spiral Staircase

Floating stone steps spiraled into the sky from the desert floor. Not sure they were real, I touched them. Not a mirage.

She disappeared during the night. A ghostly trail of footsteps in the sand, lost on hardbaked earth and found again beyond. I followed. What else could I do? The sun sizzled, water ran out, yet the dents in the sand went on.

The breeze came, at first welcome. It became a wind, obliterating the trail. I wailed and fell to my knees, covering my face, desolation as much as protection. I dropped them eventually, the landscape before me smooth. Gritting my teeth, I trudged on.

In the distance, something out of place. I veered toward it. The heat, my mind told me. The heat and exhaustion created the vision. Still I stumbled. I felt drawn. Hope dared to spark in my core.

As I approached, the something took form. Out of place, these stone steps, yet unmistakably here. I stepped up, but gentle pressure kept me from going further. I stepped off, frowning from the sand. The stairway disappeared high in the sky. I sat beside it. Lost to any explanation, I still felt the spark. I stayed. The sizzle of the sun subsided.

I felt them before I heard them. A slight vibration in the stairs. Footfalls, many of them. Caught in the wonder of twilight, in a desert landscape dappled by moonlight, I rose and looked upward. A shadow snaked down the spiral. I stepped away, but there was no place to hide. I waited and watched. Fear spoke but found no purchase. The spark of hope for her hushed it.

People. The shadow coming down was made of people. As each descended to the desert floor, a smile was cast my way. I watched as each stepped away from the stairs into nothingness, vanishing silently. Eyes wide, I glanced upward. So many of them, their garb reflecting different parts of the world. Each peacefully smiling and stepping into a void.

My breath caught as I looked up again. She was there, on the steps. The same peaceful expression, the same smile. The spark in my heart flamed. She was safe, she was well. I reached out for her and her hand slid into mine as she stepped onto the sand. We stepped away from the parade.

“You aren’t meant to be here,” she said calmly. “It isn’t time. Come, we will return.” I felt tears. We will go back, all will be well. I felt peace, joy, that trumped my lack of understanding. She was safe and well. Safe and well, it sang in my heart, filling my mind. She led me by the hand into the nothingness.

The campsite lay beyond. She led me to the tent and leaned me back, brushing my cheek with her fingertips. “Remember me this way, Mommy. Safe and well. I love you.” Peace and joy stayed with me as she faded into the nothingness.

© 2010 Jessica Rosen

Inspired by a #storystarters by, you guessed it, @Selorian (Clifford Fryman). This is a #FridayFlash offering as well as an entry for #StoryStarters500, a challenge to use a line from that hashtag and write a flash piece under 500 words.

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16 thoughts on “FlashFic: The Spiral Staircase

  1. The Compostela Key March 26, 2010 at 8:12 am Reply

    Haven’t been updating my own blog for a while, but it’s good to see you’re still going strong! 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen March 28, 2010 at 12:20 am Reply

      Thanks for stopping by. I miss one here or there due to health stuff, but try to stick with it. I find that both the Forum and the FlashFic are helpful to me. I only hope they are entertaining and helpful to others!

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  2. Gracie March 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm Reply

    I just found you through Twitter (I’m following you now- oh, and I put your site in my bookmarks). This is beautiful, lyrical. What a delight!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen March 28, 2010 at 12:21 am Reply

      Thanks, Gracie – lovely for you to follow both me and my site, thank you again. Please send me an @ so I know who you are and can follow back? I’m glad you’re enjoying what you found here.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  3. Marisa Birns March 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm Reply

    Once again, the inspiration from those first sentences brings you to writing with clever creativity.

    Enjoyed it very much.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen March 28, 2010 at 12:22 am Reply

      Thanks, Marisa, your support is so nice. I love Selorian’s storystarters. They always twig something, push the creative buttons.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  4. Johanna Harness March 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm Reply

    Heart-wrenching. Thank you.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen March 28, 2010 at 12:23 am Reply

      I’m so glad it had that effect, Johanna. Thank you for letting me know.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. mazzz_in_Leeds March 27, 2010 at 8:31 am Reply

    “Fear spoke but found no purchase” – lovely stuff.
    A very pretty, touching piece

    One minor point, did you mean for “We will go back, all will be well” to be without quotes? It read to me like it was the girl speaking it, in line with what comes just before in that paragraph.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen March 28, 2010 at 12:24 am Reply

      Hi, thanks so much for your comments, so kind of you. Actually, I did not mean it in quotes. Rather, it was more the mother reassuring herself in my mind. I can definitely see how it would appear to be the girl speaking it, though. Good catch.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  6. JT Long March 28, 2010 at 12:25 pm Reply

    Amazing what you can envision based on #storystarters. You are a true visionary.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen March 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm Reply

      What a very nice thing for you to say, thank you. The #storystarters are a cup that runneth over. I’ve taken to keeping a document of the ones that catch my imagination so I can refer when necessary. Thanks again, gave me a big and blushing smile.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  7. Skycycler March 29, 2010 at 7:24 am Reply

    Wonderful. A different kind of stone circle this week, and a very different tale. Your gifts range freely, Jess.
    Simon.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen March 30, 2010 at 11:18 am Reply

      Thank you, Simon. You say the nicest things. Most encouraging.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  8. Mark Kerstetter March 29, 2010 at 2:44 pm Reply

    Lovely, and I like the short sentences, like one step after another…

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen March 30, 2010 at 11:19 am Reply

      I’m delighted that it read that way for you. Thank you, Mark, for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

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