Louise hated that her sister always got her way.
"Oh, Louise. You can empty the trash. You know Myra is afraid of getting dirty." Mother would say.
Louise was no fan of it herself. But who emptied the trash? Louise.
"Oh, Louise. You can pull up the weeds. You know Myra is afraid of worms." Mother would say.
Yeah, and Louise was just gaga over them. But Louise did the weeding.
"Oh, Louise. You can sleep in the last room down the hall. You know Myra is afraid of the dark." Father would state.
But it's okay if Louise gets eaten by the night monsters. And Louise slept in the dark.
Always Louise, never Myra. Myra was always afraid.
Sometimes, Louise just got sick and tired of being the brave one.
And those are the words mother and father always used. "Louise, you are the brave one. We can count on you."
At this point, they must have counted on Louise a million times. And babied Myra a million times.
Now mother wanted the old suitcase from the basement.
"Why can't Myra get it?" Louise asked.
"Oh, Louise." Mother said, as usual. "You know Myra is afraid of spiders.
Louise crossed her arms over her chest and stood still.
"Yeah, and I have tea parties with the spiders!" she said, her lips tight. "I don't want to. Let Myra."
Mother just answered, "You know you are the brave one."
That was it. There was no more discussion. If Louise pushed again, she would have to deal with Father. Not worth it.
She slowly walked toward the basement door.
Standing before it, she kicked her left shoe with her right.
"I don't want to go down there." Louise said quietly to herself.
Myra was afraid of so many things. But the basement was the one thing Louise was most afraid of.
She wasn't afraid of the darkness down there. It never bothered her.
Nor was she afraid of the spiders. Or the earwigs. Or the mice that sometimes scampered underfoot. Little creatures never freaked Louise out.
What Louise dreaded was the slow walk down the stairs.
It was dank and musty smelling, and until you got to the last few steps, your view of the cellar was blocked by the sloped ceiling.
Louise always felt like she was walking into the unknown when she went down there.
And by the time you realized there was nothing to be afraid of, you were at the bottom of the staircase.
But what if something had been there? It would be too late. You would be so close it would get you!
"I don't want to go down there." Louise said again, a bit louder.
From behind, her mother said lightly. "Don't make me get Father, dear."
Louise put her hand on the doorknob and turned it. Slowly, she pulled the door in towards her.
The dark cellar loomed beyond.
She reached one hand inside the doorway and flicked on the light. A bulb at the top of the stairs went on, as did one in the basement. Neither helped her see the bottom.
Very quietly, under her breath, Louise whispered, "I hate Myra."
Carefully, she stepped into the doorway.
Then onto the first step.
She knew there were thirteen steps in all. She just had to get down twelve more.
Her right foot went to the second step. Her left joined quickly.
"Nothing to be afraid of." she told herself.
Step three. Step four.
Her heart began to beat a little quicker.
Her mind began to race. What could be down there?
"Nothing, silly." She told herself.
Her hand stayed on the railing the entire time. It felt good to have something secure to hold on to.
Step seven, and the 'squeak-squeak'. She remembered the squeaking, creaking of this step, because it meant she was halfway down.
Carefully, she stepped again. Number eight.
Still no way to see what was down in the basement. She tried to lower her head, but the place was just built so weird.
Father said it would cost too much to change it, even though he had to go down the stairs backwards or he would bump his head.
"Why did they build it like this, Father?" Louise had asked one day.
He said the person who first built the house wasn't really a builder. He did the best he could.
Louise thought that was a dumb thing for someone who wasn't a builder to do.
One more step and she would be able to see beyond the slope. She wouldn't need to be afraid anymore.
She carefully stepped, right foot, then left foot. Number eleven.
And she still couldn't see.
"Must be getting taller." she told herself as her heart raced.
Louise began to get nervous. Why wasn't she past the slope yet?
"Stupid Myra." she said, aloud this time.
She should be at the bottom. But... she wasn't. Steps still lay ahead. The slope of the ceiling still blocked her view.
"How can this be?" Louise thought. Slowly, she stepped again.
Her heart pounded in her chest. Her hand tight on the railing, she began to rush down the steps.
Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty!
"Oh no!" Louise yelled and stopped. Now she was scared. She was really, really scared. Steps still lay ahead. More steps than she could count!
She turned and looked back up. The landing at the top looked so far away!
"What is happening!?" Louise yelled, tears running down her cheeks. "Mother!"
"What is it? What's the matter?" her mother asked, grabbing Louise by the shoulder.
Louise was in the kitchen, at the top of the cellar stairs, her hand still on the light switch.
Her mother stepped closer and looked at her daughter's face.
"Louise! Why are you crying?" Mother demanded, worry in her voice.
"Mama!" Louise yelled, throwing her arms tightly around her Mother's waist. "Please don't make me go down there! Please! I will do anything else. I'll throw the trash! I'll pull the weeds! But not the cellar!"
Mother patted her back and brushed her hair with her hand.
"Oh Louise." she said, her voice soft. "Don't worry about it. I'll have Father get the suitcase later."
Louise hugged her mother even tighter. "Thank you! I'm sorry, Mama."
"There is nothing to be sorry about, dear." Her mother hugged her back and said. "It takes a courageous person to admit when they are afraid of something. And you are my little brave one."
~ J. Mello 5/14/2010 ~
~ J. Mello 5/14/2010 ~