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SQUEAK — a fiction
Listening for the fifth step
The fifth step from the bottom has a squeak that sounds like leaving. I asked you to fix it so many times. You got as far as B&Q one time — came home with a new coat of paint for the bathroom. Burnt grey. It grew mould in beautiful colours, drawing up unknown pigments from the solution to produce an oily sheen to the mildew. The cleaner scrubbed it clean last week. I came home and ran my fingers over the silicon, tracing the contours. I wondered if she had scratched it off first or gone straight for the bleach. I never knew what to do with these things.
But the squeak in the step is still there. Thud, thud, thud, thud, squeak, thud, thud. I walk back down again to see if it makes any difference to the sound. It is much worse on the way out.
The funny thing is the way the bed feels now. I had grown so used to the warmth from your side that without you it felt like someone had left the fridge door open. The draft crept under the covers like fingers. I will take a hot water bottle and put it there in your place. It will help me sleep.
But in that sleep, I will still be listening. Not for the key in the lock nor for the closing of the door; those things mean nothing to me. I listen for the squeak. Pad, pad, pad, pad, squeak, pad, pad.
I live in fear of the squeak-less night.
Originally published on Tumblr
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