He stole our stairs.
Plank by plank. His angry fist clutching each Popsicle stick riser for just a moment, snapping it into splinters. Nail by nail, shrapnel bits flying cartoonishly out into the cul-de-sac. A row of school pictures with bad haircuts and 70s double knit blouses tossed around like used Kleenex.
There was no way to reach the attic or the dark cellar where raccoons and daddy long-legs hid and prayed together. There was nowhere to hide from his wrath and yet we tried. Huddled together, we sang Nearer My God To Thee in our bathtub Titanic. The porcelain tile cold against our matching floral nightgowns, rag curls twisted too-tight for Sunday morning services.
We listened for his departure as we had many times before. With a final stomping thud, he was gone and only summer rain tap-danced an SOS on our red corrugated tin roof.
We crawled out of the tub, a hunched sister trio with wide, sleepy eyes. The door to one shattered stair and a wet brick path thrown into yellow dandelions.
“Mama!” Caroline called out into the fake sunny sky.
She was too young and too sleepy to realize he’d taken her away too. Hester and I knew. We sat down on what he had left us of 2014 Springstead Drive and began pulling curls down around her face.
“Do I look pretty?” she asked.
I shook my head yes and continued making her golden curls just like mama had taught us. We wouldn’t be the only barefooted orphans at Sunday services that day.
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