At The Top Of The Stairs

Inspired By The Bancroft Manor Prompt: Will You Visit The House of Usher?

Photo by Yoss Cinematic on

My Aunt has a room

at the top of the stairs

where she does all of her writing

and all of her dreaming

and most of her plotting.


The  door, at the top of the stairs with the not very rusted hinges is never locked.

No  matter what the weather is like her windows are  never shuttered.

The  unbleached muslin curtains are always tied away from the windows with ribbon she saved from a Christmas present she got from my Grandmother when she was a girl.

The present was a doll that disappeared a few days after Christmas and my Father says my Grandfather asked about it a few days later and my Aunt looked out the window towards the lake and shrugged.

And then she laughed.


In my Aunt’s room

at the top of the stairs  she always has a fan running in the corner, it sounds like someone sharpening knives we have decided.

The fan ( an old fashioned one we presumed ) relentlessly whispers,

when you are trying to sleep or decide what to wear or when you are trying to watch TV or fall asleep,  in it’s a smooth metallic voice  interrupted by a clink and a thunk and then silence for a mere second before it started up again.


My Aunt has a room at the top of the stairs.

and there is a

welcome signed nailed to the door.


The sign is made from pressed tin and has tiny bluebirds stamped around the edges.

But something about that fan whirling relentlessly in the corner,

makes  the friendly, delicate sign seem less inviting.

It is hung on the door with a nail that was far to big

for such a small sign and it had been driven in so deep the sign was slightly folded and it looked like the Blue Birds were going to fly into each other.


My Aunt has a room at the top of the stairs

where she does all of her writing, all of her plotting and some of her dreaming.

and we admire her as much as we fear her

because to do what she does, takes  talent and dedication and I must say,  frightening amounts of supernatural focus and drive

when you consider

she is buried a good ten miles away from our house.

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro on



RDP Tuesday: Match

Everyone has a double, if not on this world then it’s possible that in a Universe of alternate realities you might not have just one double.

You could have an infinite number of copies of yourself for every action that you have ever made or not made.

Imagine that, an exact double of yourself- someone who not just looks like you but thinks like you and is it possible might know what makes you tick? Maybe they even act like you and get that same funny look on their face when that song about Pina Coladas starts playing on the radio and they know they have to listen to it because it’s coming over the loudspeaker at the Market and they can’t shut it off so they go to the manager’s office and explain- rather forcefully why they need to shut that damn thing off.

I don’t handle surprises well, my reaction to surprises and uncomfortable situations has gotten me into a lot of trouble in the past and if I wasn’t as careful as I have learned to be, I’d be back at The Home right now not on a bus on my way to work, like a normal person.

Today is where my story starts- this morning on my way to work  a woman sat next to me on the bus.

I pulled to my left and jammed myself against the window- I loath touching people- it doesn’t matter if it’s on accident or on purpose. It makes my skin crawl.

I  went back to pretending to read my book and I sort of snuck a look at her without catching her eye. I don’t like talking to strangers you see. In fact, I don’t like talking to anybody at all.

People annoy me-so I do what I do best. I people watch. I’m not the type of person you would ever really look at twice- it’s because my face is less then ordinary. Plain, simple , uneventful.

I took a quick look her jaw and then I  got away with that without being noticed I went back in for a peek at her ear and just as I was about to take in her entire profile our eyes locked.

Or should I say- my eyes locked on my own reflection.

Her nose was my nose, her dark eyes were my eyes her hair was styled like mine and the way her  lip curled a little when she was forced to acknowledge another human being was my curled lip.

My double, my match, this was not good.

We stared at each other and I put my book down- I watched her eyes fall to my lap where my book was and her eyes snapped back up to my face.

Both our lips were curled up into a little snarl at this point.

I see, she was reading this book too. She probably didn’t like it but I was willing to bet she would read it to the end anyway, just like me.

” Are you my double? ” I asked because I could not think of anything else to say.

” I think you are my double.” she corrected me.

We continued to stare at each other.

” How much alike do you think we are?” it wasn’t really a question. It was more like a thought.

” We do look a lot alike.”

” Do you suppose we think alike to?” I wondered.

Her eyes went from being flat and non-descript to the exact opposite of flat and non-descript.

” I’m sure we don’t think alike or act alike or share anything other then -” I began

” an uneventful and boring face. My Dad used to say that about me and -” she continued

” so did my ex-husband” I  finished our  exchange.

” I can’t have my secrets, ” she said ” running around like an ill trained dog off of it’s leash.”

” I agree.”

I put my book into my purse.

She pulled the cord and the bus slid to the curb and we both got off at the stop.

We went down the street together and I know this- only one of us will be walking back to the stop later and  I am certain  there will only be one of us left  to finish writing this.

The Counseled

RDP Thursday – COMPROMISE Create a post  inspired by this word!

Photo by Milly Eaton on

” I don’t like the way you look at me, you know the way you look when you think I’m wrong and you’re right.” he told her as they sat face at their  kitchen island in their brightly lit kitchen .

Their counselor had suggested they have this talk in a place where they had no history of yelling, or throwing things or insulting each other.

The only place they could do that was the kitchen- not because it was filled with bright colors and nice smells they chose it because they never used it and they never used it because they never ate together.

Plus they knew on some level it was probably not a good idea to be together in a room full of sharp and breakable objects.

” Well.” She said after a few minutes after thinking before speaking ( another piece of over priced advice ) ” I hate the way you say mean things to me  when you think I’m wrong and you’re right.”

” I hear you.” came his carefully crafted reply. ” I think that I can say, in this safe place where we’ve agreed to share our feelings, that I hate it when you give me the evil eye when you think you’re right and I’m wrong.”

She reached for her coffee cup- which was full of hot coffee and instead of pulling it towards herself she slid it to her right. ” I don’t think you do. Hear me. Especially when you know I’m right and you are really wrong.”

They were both trying very hard to smile.

The results were not exactly stellar, but lots of teeth were involved.

” I think we are at a place where we have learned- through the hours and hours and hours of  guidance  from our awesome Counselor-  to compromise so that we can have a happy, healthy relationship together, as opposed to happy healthy apart.”

” That’s not an option,  the apart option” she said with feeling. ” I think we can both agree, we are not exactly the easiest people to love, or even the easiest people to sit in the same room with, without you know-  being armed with Tasers or something. You get me. Nobody else does.”

He sighed in agreement and pointed to her cup of coffee and she nodded. She did however keep her eyes on it as he took the cup, helped himself to a sip and didn’t take her eyes off of it until he  put the cup  down again.

” So what should we do?”

” Well. If I could ask for one change, I’d ask you didn’t get so mean when you talk to me. You know, when you think I’m wrong and you’re right.:”

” And to be honest, I truly despise you when you give me that stink eye when you think I’m wrong and you’re right.”

” I’m willing to compromise, no stink eye for no more snark.”

He leaned back and smiled.

” Okay. Let’s do it.  On three we agree to make the changes to ourselves- for each other.” she said with actual enthusiasm. ” I  can feel it, you know? I know I can change myself, I can’t change you but I CAN change myself. I’m really feeling it. We can do this!”

” Happy, healthy together- hell yes!” he shouted with actual joy.

They stood up and met each other at the end of the island and in each of their hands was a boning knife.

She closed her eyes, he opened his mouth.


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Photo by Lennart kcotsttiw on


There is a nightmare under the Writer’s  bed

and I think it has teeth.

There is a nightmare hiding in her closet

and I think it has teeth.


Very long, very jagged, razor sharp teeth.


What does it feel like

when a nightmare bites you

with jagged, razor sharp teeth?


Tonight just before she falls asleep

I think her closet door’s hinges will

whisper to the Nightmares with teeth

” Is she dreaming about us?”




Photo by Lennart kcotsttiw on


The house on the corner used to be yellow

then it was pink and then it was blue and one day it was painted gray.


There were cherry trees out front and a holly tree out back

and a little grave by a fountain full of frogs.


The Writer who lives there never comes out

of the house that is now painted red.


There are curtains in the windows that are always closed

and the swing on the porch creaks when it rocks

like bones carefully finding their way

on worn wooden steps

up from the basement

of  a house

that used to be yellow

and is now painted red.





Photo by Lennart kcotsttiw on


There was a story  that haunted the house

that I’ve built inside of my head.


It was all about monsters and curses and gardener

named Erasmus

who always sings when he digs.


There is an abandoned fire

burning  on  a cold hearth

in the house

where my shadows used to live.