The Stairs
Juan Martinez
T hose stairs on Downer Elementary give me the chills. I get to the torn up gate. I look around. I don't see anyone. I only see the black and red mural. It says her name. It's hard to read it from up close. I move back ten feet from it. I can see it better.
I sit down next to the fence. I continue looking and looking. My eyes close after so much looking. My memories of her are alive. I see her walking home from school. I see her sipping away on her drink. I see her complaining about her boyfriend. I see her telling me about being the shortest lawyer. I see her big cheesy smile. I see her pinching my brother. I see her screaming in the rallies. I see her calling me names.
I slowly open my eyes. I don't see her.
I stand up. I look around. I don't see anyone. I walk towards the stairs. I walk slow.
I get to those dirty stairs. I see the graffiti. Big letters. And small letters. The metal rail is hanging on the stairs. I walk up the stairs. I walk slow. I look down at all the steps. I get creeped out. I continue.
I get to the second level. I look around. No one is there.
I look down. I close my eyes. I see her again. I see her screaming. I see her struggling. I see her punching. I see her kicking.
I open my eyes.
I remember her mother finding her here.

First published: October 1997