Uncharted Stairways, a short story by saeria. Date added: 2006-03-09. Times viewed: 1206.
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- Intro: This is one of those stories that I wrote when I was maybe 12 or so. Every year or so I revamp it and put it away. I think Iâ€™m finally happy with it.
- "I wonder what it's like to go to Heaven, mama. Do you think Big Sister
and her boyfriend are there now?" A little boy asked at the funeral
Maelstrom pressed the cruise control button and settled back in
her seat. There was an easy sense of comfort edging into her heart with a
light contentment of being on the road with John. The hunter green Nissan
glided along the desolate highway, the only movement to be seen here. Here
was nothing, a barren dry waste, not so dry now. It was just breaking dawn
and the light of glorious Father Sol mellowed softly through the thin fog.
Her eyes moved from the monotonous striped highway to the rear-view mirror,
where two strings of plastic beads and a Barbie doll head hung with cheerful
abandon. Then to the dash where a quarter, a nickel, two pennies and a
silver guitar pick walked from side to side with the car's vibration. Her
eyes flashed back to the road dutifully. No changes here. She resumed her
gaze right to her passenger. He sat, reclined a little, head leaning back
dazedly in utter comfort.
She was glad that she'd taken over; he probably wouldn't have been able to
stay awake much longer. Her eyes went back to the road, no changes here,
just flat orange hardpan and endless highway into the horizon. She moved her
head slightly and sighed. His spicy clean scent filled the air, leather and
pheromones. His rich hair framed his face in soft, lanky strands as he
tipped his chin back. His eyes were hidden behind thick lashes, closed to
the world. Only the tilt of his eyebrows gave any indication of his current
state. They were risen in slight arch, a manner which suggested he was very
awake still but trying hard not to be. Once again he scanned the road, no
She watched in the corner of her eye as he took the pick from the dash and
leaned back again, just running the pick idly through his fingers as if he
were in meditation or on the verge of a great revelation. She wanted to
break the silence, felt that it'd been a long time since either of them had
said anything, but she decided to leave it where it was. It was a
comfortable silence. His eyes were open, almost all the way, but not quite,
and a smile turned his lips sweetly.
He reached over to the radio, turning it up from its former, barely audible
volume. Stairway to Heaven. He rested his head against the window pensively
as he sang the words to himself. She looked back at the road, just listening
to the rise and fall of his melodic voice. Perhaps he wasn't the greatest
singer in the world, but in all truth he had one of the most pleasing
voices. Rising, falling, gentle notes in sweeping succession. As the last
words fell from his lips she moved her eyes from the road. She felt his gaze
upon her and instantly fell into it. His deep, crystalline eyes took her in
as if they were a warm cabin in the blizzard. Welcoming. His expression
seemed to reflect her affection for him.
"It's been a beautiful stairway so far, hasn't it?" she finally spoke up.
"Even if we traveled with uncharted maps." She added barely above a whisper.
He just nodded, smiling widely, and took her free hand. She wanted so much
to keep within his gaze but knew her attention should be on the road and
turned away just as he felt her hand raised to his lips. Softly. Back down
again he covered it with his other hand and drifted to sleep. Whatever
thought which had sprung into his mind was now put to ease.
Maelstrom felt a strong pressure that one could have called Mother Nature'
good-hearted scream. The road had been monotonous. The only thing which kept
her from feeling the intensity of boredom was the radio and the faint
rhythmic sound of his breath. He'd been sleeping peacefully since early that
morning; a good long sleep was well deserved after the long drive he pulled
in. She really loathed the idea of having to wake him from such a sleep, but
figured a rest stop was in need. She followed the sign which read Redbrook 7
with her eyes, laughing at the idea of any sort of natural water being
anywhere in this desert cactus haven. As the horizon grew into a dark line,
then to the outline of a town she marveled at the trees here and there and
guess perhaps there was a miracle brook running down from the impossibly
distant mountains. As she pulled into the Chevron, the lot seemed to grow
miles. She'd reached the brink of her stamina as she parked the car and ran
to the Port-a-can.
She emerged feeling much better, much lighter, and shook him awake gently.
Immediately he awoke; his groggy expression and mumbling questions were
quite cute to say the least. She took his hand and led him to the port-a-can
and left him to his doings. He emerged very awake, moved the hair from his
face with one deft movement of his hand and smiled at her.
"I really didn't want to wake you but I couldn't wait any longer." She said
slowly as they walked through the door of the store.
"Oh that's all right" he said dismissively as they were assaulted with the
scents of Nag Champa and Clorox.
The foreign man behind the counter gave them a suspicious look as if the
idea of a road be-draggled couple struck a suspicious nerve. As they mused
over drink Maelstrom caught the light sound of The Last Waltz playing over
the speaker and laughed, taking his hands.
"Ever waltzed in a convenience store?" she asked, swinging him into a
"Can't say as I have." He chuckled as they swept through the aisle.
They reached the sudden end and for a moment were at a stalemate as to what
to do next. He braced one strong arm around her and let her bend until her
head nearly touched the floor. Easy. Then with graceless effort she started
her way up, knocking over a display of motor oil. Instantly a foreign cry
assaulted them as the man flew around the counter. She picked up the only
ruined bottle of oil, their drinks and folded a $20 into the foreign man's
hand, leaving him there with his overseas profanity. Quickly they were on
the road again. They laughed until he grew silent, and before long, he was
back to sleep, still very tired.
She herself began to feel the sedation of fatigue but chose to ignore it.
Her eyes dropped for merely a second but long enough still to wake to a
fluttering melee of black feathers on the windshield. Vulture. She swerved
slightly to rid the window of the bird but in doing such she once again woke
him. "Maybe we should stop somewhere for the night?" he suggested as he
rubbed his eyes.
"We'd have to pull a nighter in the car; there isn't another place for
miles. I may not know exactly where we're going but I refuse to back track."
"Then we shall... or I could drive a little more" he offered
"Don't even speak it" she retorted, quickly pulling the car into a rest
stop. With the same quickness she unbelted herself and placed her hands in
her lap primly. Though darkness had just taken over, it had fallen quickly
and the only light available was the eerie green of the dash clock. Green
still could not take away that delicate look to his features. Once again he
caught her gaze, only this time she had an eternity to fall into that
crystalline abyss. So many things ran through her mind as she fell, bodiless
words of love and descriptive poetry, a yearning to run the tip of her
fingers along his jaw line in aesthetic query. She took his hands and held
them for a short time then became distracted by the sky. Caught in
breathless awe, he tugged at his sleeve and pulled him outside. Up above lay
the vast populate heavens. Twinkling lights glittered in a sea that seemed
to stretch in every direction. They settle atop the hood lying against the
windshield, simply staring at the celestial depths. She took in a deep
breath, couldn't help but smile.
"Must be you" Her whisper barely broke through the mysterious silence. He
paused for a moment before giving a perplexed "hmm".
"Must be you who makes the night sky seem so much more beautiful."
"Now I don't know about that" he laughed.
"The only 2 times I've ever seen a sky as beautiful as this were in your
presence. Remember the time we were doing this exact same thing... watching
the sky, the stars from the Lyriads shower fall."
He nodded in remembrance "I saw one, made a wish too"
"And what wish was that?" she asked curiously
"If I told you then it wouldn't come true. I'll give you a hint; it's going
to come true very soon now." He told her as if his magic was lit within him.
"The second time" she continued, her voice as low as a breeze" was on New
Year's Eve. it seems so long ago. Jut as the clock turned midnight I caught
the vision of the Pleiades and looked all the way up at all those stars and
suddenly my chest started pounding. Then you just held me, affirming that
everything was alright in the world."
He took her into a simply warm embrace. She kissed his cheek and sighed
"You never cease to amaze me." She finalized and fell asleep.
A few hours later she woke in the passenger seat, aware that the road had
turned dreadfully rough. "Where are we?" she asked but really she had no
need to. This was part of his magic, the part that no one knew or understood
"Closer" he answered.
"I thought we were going to somewhere in Ca-"
"I've had a better idea... I know you'll like it. I know where the stairway
to heaven is?"
Her confusion was soon stolen away by the scenery, lit by the ever-dimming
headlights. All around stood ghosten live oaks, dangling spidery shadows on
the moonlit dirt road. He parked beneath an especially large tree and sat a
moment before turning the ignition off.
"This is your magic" Maelstrom said as she opened the door. The outside
looked like a typical wooded area but it felt like another world entirely.
She knew it was no longer her beloved Earth.
"No, this is our magic, it's about to get better." He led her to the
beginnings of a path and stopped for a moment, as if listening, then tapped
her shoulder, dashing away quickly through the trees.
"Tag you're it" he called as he dove forward. She threw her head back and
laughed like a swift in the eve, darting through the trees in pursuit.
The moonlit tree trunks glowed as she whisked by them, following the sound
of his lithe stride through the forest. Suddenly, without warning she lost
him. No ghosten image through the trees, or the soft crackling of spent
leaves underfoot. Nothing but silence.
"Come out, my love" she called sweetly as she slowed her pace to a walk. All
of her instincts told her to continue forward. Softly, the wind rustled the
leaves above like a million tiny hands giving a hearty applause. She
listened to a pair of screech owls calling to each other form opposite sides
of the forest but soon regained her focus onto the task at hand.
"Come out, my love! " she crooned slyly. Before she could blink the forest
opened into a meadow. Flawless. The grass rolled like waves underneath the
mysterious lunar light. In the center of the meadow sat what looked like an
arbor. The walls were flooded with a thin twining vine of velvet leaves and
trumpets of delicate, silver flowers. Out of curiosity she touched one of
the silver petals and it liquefied over her finger as if it was made from
mercury. She quickly withdrew he fingers and watched with surprise as the
flower reformed. She wished he could have seen this but she had no doubt
he'd already know about the flowers, and the faint gold light that radiated
through the vine arbor.
She searched for an inlet until one of her hands sank into the wall and led
the rest of her. She opened her eyes, taking in a deep long breath of
earthy, humid air, and was swept into a Tolkein-esque fantasy world. It was
most certainly a chapel or some sort. The pews were made of carefully carved
stone, little stone vines climbed up the sturdy legs and down again to the
earthen floor. There was an open majesty to it all, the in ceiling, the vine
walls, the visage of "the nameless saint" carved in driftwood over the
altar. The altar itself was lit with two torches, which gave off a
supernatural light when it mixed with the dappled light of Mother Luna.
There perched on the podium he sat, looking especially ethereal, smiling as
his fingers, ghosten white and twined together draping over his ankles as he
sat cross-legged. His eyes reflected the dancing torchlight as his smile
"Our magic" he said. Her feeling of disbelief suddenly waned. She feigned
speechless awe as she sidled to him. In an instant she tapped him on yhr
"You're it!" she cried and ran out in warmhearted delight. She ran, her pace
pounding steadily for what seemed like miles through woods, then grasslands,
laughing lightly before she was caught around the waist. Down she fell,
pulling him with her.
"Do I get a prize?" he mused as he rose, helping her up. She just smiled and
kissed him gently on his soft coral lips.
"Maybe" He suddenly turned away and waved his arm over to his right. Deeply
embedded into the fog of early morning, within the pulsing beat of the ocean
tide, above the rich white sand which the grassland spilled into, was an
uncharted stairway spiraling high into the grey sky.
"Finally, we've found it" he said breathlessly, taking her hand. She
hesitated as he began toward the stairway.
[I shall follow you to the ends of any world] she wanted to say but she said
nothing. Up the stairway lay the very place they were fated to be. She let
him lead her to the first step, then the second, as he hummed the under his
breath. This was path to eternity, even if they didn't know it right then.
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