You’re not meant to laugh when someone falls over. Or at least, you should check they aren’t injured before doing so…
And the stairs, well, they had a reputation. No, not that sort of reputation – they weren’t sleeping around or anything.. what is wrong with you? But they had a dangerous reputation, like they’d cut you, they’d watch you bleed like it wasn’t even a thing.
That makes it sound deliberate, which I don’t think is true. And I hope isn’t true, because a world where personification is literal instead of metaphorical is pretty messed up and doesn’t bear thinking about.
Although I guess synecdoches could be fun in a Dada/Dali/Kafka esque sort of way.
But those stairs, I’d seen plenty of accidents, from the boring slip and scrape to the tumble down from the top – wow I thought bones were meant to be on the inside… I’d seen a few of them, generally forearms – you naturally extend your arms to defend yourself, but the fall, well, it often shatters the wrists and then drives the bone through the elbow. I saw a knee cap pop once, and a broken clavicle. I still don’t know precisely how that happened.
And the sound – it’s hard to describe. it’s transient, elusive, it exists between the patina of footfalls, and the screams of anguish, between normality and perplexed sobs, between the mundane chatter and the calling for an ambulance. It is, the rending of the flesh, a sharp, sudden reminder of our own frailty, of our own humanity.
There is a warning sign at the top, but I guess people feel that they just know better. Even the little old lady, with her blue rinse, her fake pearls and her Zimmer frame.
I helped her. Her bony fingers white on my sleeve. Eyes a little wide, mumbling something about her grand kids.
I guess I wasn’t ready to see a fatality.
At least, not yet.
You see, I choose to eat my lunch here – I choose to spend my daily hour of freedom staring at the stairs, cataloging pain, well, other people’s pain. I choose to watch as humanity falls.
And I laugh.
I guess I’m just a bad person.
This was written using an HSC ‘Discovery’ stimulus, and was written (as it is above) in about thirty minutes under ‘Exam Conditions’ (which in this case, was interrupted, but still.)
In it’s current form, it’s a bit short, but that would be corrected in the next ‘wash’ – if I was really writing in an exam (and I’m thankful that I’m not) I’d be writing on every second line, partly for my terrible handwriting, and partly so that I could easily go through it and make adjustments. The biggest adjustment that it needs is obviously ‘colour’, there aren’t enough showboating elements in terms of language. But with ten minutes to play with, they can be added.
I think it suitably addresses the ‘Discovery’ criteria, although, what I’d like is for it to be more of a journey for the reader as well, to make it more that they also go on the journey and perhaps discover that they too are bad people (we generally are), but it would need some serious structural changes – so it could be done, but it’s a heavy rewrite and not really viable for a forty minute exam. (Maybe I should have been more prepared… hint hint.)
And that title: it’s one of those amazing titles that gets worse the more you think about it. So, it’s probably okay, as the marker will move on before it gets too annoying.