Updated: Feb 20, 2021
By, Wendiann Alfieri Part One: Graphite
The Maneras Mansion was impressive in how squeaky clean it was. It almost sparkled. A woman named Marina was in the middle of it, standing in awe. But not at the decor, or the piano that was just standing there. Just looking up at the huge ceiling was enough to make her eyes widen.
Marina had eyes like a hawk. Her mother had always joked about how Marina would find “ Waldo” in a crowd of identical people. She had good senses and as sharp as her eyes were, so was her sense of smell
Everything and everyone had a sort of aura around them
Marina couldn’t tell what this woman’s aura was
But her nose smelled a smell of ash
“ I will give you a thousand dollars” the woman said.
Marina’s mouth almost dropped to the floor
Whatever was wrong could wait
“ Just clean the kitchen and set up for the dinner party, clean the bathroom downs the hall, the indoor swimming pool please just make sure the temperature is kept? whatever you do don’t touch the stairs they are old just don’t go up them please? I need a whole new one a lot of the steps creak and god the other day I almost hurt myself when the one stair caved in...” she trailed off. But Marina instantly felt the need to go on the staircase specifically because she wasn’t able to. The woman showed her around and soon she left to watch a play with her friends, and come back to a meal Marina would cook and serve. The woman was wearing a red dress with a black goofy shawl. As the door closed Marina went to work.
Cleaning the bathrooms was like walking into a bedroom
The table was set and the chicken was being cooked
The indoor pool was fine, and Marina wanted to jump in it. She loved being in water and letting herself just float. But soon Marina was done, and a quick check from her watch said that she still had an hour and a half till the woman’s party came home. And she looked at the staircase
They were Almost like just plain old stairs.
They looked incredibly worn like many people had rushed up them
But it was also mesmerizing. Because as Marina approached it to look up it seemed like the staircase went on forever
Something was wrong
But something captivated Marina. She wanted to see where they led too, her sense of having her guard up dissolved a little as she took a step toward it. The woman of the house wasn’t there
Maybe she wouldn’t care
For god sakes it’s a staircaseMarina was always so impulsive. When someone said “ no” Marina would feel the need to make it a yes, took it as a challenge.
Marina was just a sixteen year old who cooked amazingly. She did a bunch of her fellow classmates parents’ dinner parties with her mom as she went to a school where parents just did that. Helped pay tuition.
Tonight she was on her own but there were only to be a few people and Marina wanted the practice. But as her eyes, blue and wide, were not aware of anything till she was on the second step of these worn down stairs she shouldn’t give a damn about normally.
Her foot was in sneakers, a little warm.
As her foot went to the second step, everything disappeared and the world melted around her.
She was walking up these stairs as a child. Barefoot and paint all over her three year old self. Holding a spoon, moms special sauce spoon. It was covered in paint and Marina heard the mother call her name. And Marina dropped the spoon and as her moms voice grew closer, Marina ran farther up. Marina’s thoughts were confused as she vaguely went on.
The woman is now running up following Marina. Her mother yells. She’s a blonde, about thirty years old. She runs up the stairs to her child, covered in paint. The mother sighs and just lets her kid go after picking up the sauce spoon and hurrying back down.. And Marina’s legs grow to be the legs of a six year old as the world melted. She was jumping on the stairs playing catch with a handball now. She hears distant fighting. Her parents were fighting loudly and Marina didn’t know why. Dad was growing distant and her mother was stressed out all the time and Marina had to get up to her room as quickly as she could. As an angry father bustles up the stairs he looks down up at Marina, frozen, with a look of pain and tears. He sits down next to Marina and hugs her close, crying. “ I will miss you Beatrice,” he says. Marina pictures all the fun in the snow her and her dad had the day before, sledding down the hill in the backyard laughing when building snowmen that looked like shapeless beings from another world. Her father took her to a carnival this past summer and Marina rode all the family riders with her, her dad, and her mother.
Her father, the one who always was spilling things in the kitchen by accident. Her father who helped her brush her teeth. He ran up past her and Marina’s mom stood at the bottom crying loudly and pleading as she ran past Marina to see her husband and they hugged. They were both crying with each other. Marina drops the handball as it pit-pats down the steps. Her father sees her. Her mother does too. “ What’s wrong mommy?” Marina asked. “ Daddy, daddy has to, to leave,” her mother stuttered. “ Why?” Marina asked. “ He has to help our country, he’s got to be a hero” the mom said. “ Daddy’s already a super hero!” She screamed. She ran past her parents, to get to her room before the world melts. She is ten now, and Mom was making pancakes for dads special day home today. And Marina was running up the steps to wake her father for breakfast. Now that he was home, her mom and her and him hung out everyday. She was so happy it was her birthday and he was there, and gave her a huge teddy bear.There was no way Marina understood anything to a full extent. She just knew he was home and the smell of pancakes rose to the ceiling. Her dad soon rushed down, grabbing her and picking her up and she was laughing and and...
Her sixteen year old self was stumbling up the stairs her head pounding. She had been at school when everyone was whispering about how her dad was a hero.
But he was still alive, Marina knew.
Until her best friend tried to tell her different
Marina had punched her best friend and she didn’t punch back
But someone else stepped in and pushed Marina down and Marina hit the ground hit her head hard
And now Marina was crying as her mom sat on the step with her holding her head she had a headache that wouldn’t go away
Marina knew then what her mom didn’t have to
Marina snapped out of it. She was on the second step and soon backed down looking up at the story she just experienced. It wasn’t her story tho. Her dad had left her mother when she was two. She never knew him. Her mom was always busy and running the company that debt was trying so hard to swallow. And here was this story.
None of it made any logical sense
So Marina began to think more
Thinking about how her father had contacted her from jail yesterday. Asking for help. How much he loved her. But it was all a ruse
She knew his games even while not knowing him.
He hurt her mom before he left
He was never a hero
And now he was to sit in a cell
And he should stay there
But Marina felt her heart yearn
To have a dad at all
Tonight the pay would be great. She still didn’t know why she was being paid so much money.
It felt fishy
But she needed to bail him out
Her heart aches and knew she was going to do the wrong thing
But it didn’t stop her
As the door burst open and in walked a girl.
She saw Marina by the steps and looked at her straight in the eyes
The girl knew
“ I guess you walked up the memory stairs. Don’t worry. Those memories will go back to me, here on the stairs,” she said with ease
“ Mom just hopes to meet someone like me, sixteen year old me,” the purple dress sways in the wind and her hair is shiny like a coin.
“ I know your memories are now here. It’s a trap. Anyone who walks up these stairs stays,”
“ B b but y y you...?”
“ I died on these and my mom has me forever kept me in these stairs. She can’t let me go, she wants my soul to be at rest, and I need a friend for that. But you have a life so I’m giving you an out now. Run. Forget the money whatever you need it for. Go home. The past will never be explained no matter how many memory based stairs you run up. Go. Be free before you can’t,” the whisper fades away in Marina’s ear
Marina thought for a moment.
And knew she had a life to live and whatever spiritual non sense this was, she couldn’t get involved.
The mother clearly couldn’t let her daughter fade away into peace
And if Marina was lured here, to die and be with her daughter?
Too much spiritual stuff that Marina didn’t even believe in.
Marina steps backwards
And takes the offer this girl had proposed
It took her twenty minutes running to her moms catering place.
Her mom was just turning her car keys in the door when ambushed by a hug from Marina.
Tears fill Marina’s eyes.
As she sits up in her hospital bed
Her mother is there holding her hand and crying with relief
“ Mom? Where’s the girl in purple?”
The mother sobs more
“ Honey, Alessandra, my daughter, She died. Three years ago she fell downstairs when learning her dad died, but if she was here she’d love you,” her mom whispers.
Her mom is older then expected
“ Mom how old am I?”
Marina feels her senses sharpening but what about her body shouldn’t she be tired?
“ Sixteen Marina. I’m old having found you so later in life,my daughters spirit, her spirit loves you. Now we can go home, and you can sit with her smelling the chicken you made. Too bad you slipped on the ice running out in my driveway. You Marina darling, saw her life, all while trying to bail out your dad. You both wish for love from your fathers and now you shall have love from me,” the woman smiles. Marina feels fear. “ My head hurts,” she says. “ Yes dear, you tripped on the black ice outside and hit your head. You’ve been out for a few hours. But you don’t need your mother now now you have me,” the mother says as Marina’s spirit floats up
Drs run in the room to see the woman gone, she ran out already in scrubs looking like she belonged. No one saw her as the chaos began with several heart monitors beeping and so many people in pain all at once as though they sensed the senseless death
The woman was crazy
But knew what she was doing
Her plans didn’t make sense
But now one had been completed.
One has worked
Marina tried to reach for her body
And soon Marina is sitting on the steps with Alessandra.
“ Sorry about that, I really didn’t want you to die, but unlike the others your spirit is here, with me,” Alessandra sighs
Marina looks down. And the mother yells a greeting to both of them
But both spirits they could not be left
To just fade
In the stairs
Where memories are kept not made
Marina says, “ I wish I had more time for you to see my memories, since we are hear anyway, Marina said meekly. Alessandra thought. “ you had sympathy for me and now you’re here. Maybe it can unstick us, learning your story. My mom has tricks up her sleeve, I never knew her connection to the spirit world till I was hurt and she was saying that she couldn’t keep my dad alive but she would keep me,” Alessandra’s spirit begins to create a heat
“ When will we know?”
The mother is screaming about how she knows that spirits can recognize smells.
“ I was always good at sensing danger, almost as though my nose is that of a dogs,” Marina states plainly.
“ I’ve always been able to sense things through touch when I was alive,” Alessandra is contemplating
“ I’ve got an idea,” she says.
“ what is it?” Marina feels like clinging to a shrivel of hope she can be set free. “ why me and why Do you keep holding on to the memories I saw?”
“ I don’t, the Stairs choose whats To be shared. Hook line and sinker. But now we are here I can share more,” Alessandra is getting excited. Marina cling to that hope ,Maybe marina can let her spirit rest in the ocean or at least see her mom one more time.
“ I’ll tell you,”
And they sat there
whispering in the language of the dead
a language not a memory
the obsessed woman couldn’t understand a word.
she had not expected this
but it doesn’t mean she wasn’t prepared
she smiles and goes to light a candle.