• Jeff South

Blogtober 2021: Ladder


This morning the stairs stretch forever it seems. At the top of these stairs is the dark hall that shouldn't be all that dark anymore, what with the sunlight coming through the bedroom windows. Leaving those doors open now floods that hallway with light. The dark is scary, but the light isn't. There's nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light, but the light shows its hand. Also, I've only seen opossums at night, so someone please explain that to me. I stand at the bottom of the stairs holding a Diet Coke because I don't drink coffee and summon the urge to climb what could be my very own personal Jacob's ladder scenario.

My first step is matched by thump from the hallway. I unscrew the cap of my drink, savor a long sip, and take another step.


"I'm coming up there whether you're there or not," I call out. Now, why am I doing that? What would I have done if a voice had called back, "ok?" Would that be better than the dreary, oppressive silence?

I move from the third step to the fourth. Nothing. Fourth to fifth. No response. Fifth to sixth.


Louder. More forceful. Like making a statement.

I fish my phone from my pocket, an admirable feat considerably how my hand is shaking. I move to the dining room, sit at the table, and find my boss's contact info on my phone. She doesn't answer so I leave a message.

"I'm not feeling well at all today." This is not a lie, so I feel justified. "Probably just need to take a day." Also, not a lie. "I'll keep you posted about tomorrow."

I inch a few tentative steps toward the stairs once more. This is ridiculous. This is my house and I'm not going to let someone disembodied entity with a creepy whisper cause me to fear my own home. Screw this. I bound up the stairs and reach the halfway point.


I stumble backward in fright, letting out a cry as I do. My balance nearly betrays me, but I grab the railing to catch my fall before I hit the floor. Regaining myself, I stand and raise my still shaking right hand and extend my middle finger. I rush to kitchen, grab my car keys and wallet, and head out the door to figure out what the hell I'm going to do with the rest of my day until my wife gets home.

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