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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Step(s) (11/29/12)

TITLE: The Elegant Staircase
By Claudia Thomason
12/05/12


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The elegant red-carpeted stairway was the first thing I noticed when the heavy wooden doors swung open at the hotel outside of Nairobi, Kenya. As short term missionaries, our group had spent a week and a half in African villages in Uganda. We were now headed home.

Besides the beautiful steps, glistening banisters stood as sentinels on both sides. The lobby itself was elegantly appointed with crystal chandeliers and leather furniture. I was reminded of the staircase in “Gone with the Wind” and envisioned myself as Scarlett O’Hara ascending the staircase to my third floor room.

There were no elevators and no bellhops. Far sweatier and dirtier than Scarlett O’Hara ever was, I climbed the stairs, hauling my suitcases behind me. My roommate and I were looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
As we got our toothbrushes and pajamas from our suitcases, something ran past me and under the bed. It looked like a large roach. I decided that I didn’t see it. To acknowledge I had seen it would require me to do something about it. I had good reason for ignoring it.

As kids growing up in Arizona, my sister and I had to deal with sewer roaches that, like the characters in “Monsters Inc,” only came out at night. We spent years watching evening television, sitting on our feet to avoid roaches. Occasionally we would spot one on the opposite wall. It wasn’t hard to spot. It resembled a small dog hanging there. My sister was the only one brave enough to deal with them.

As I thought about that, I saw the roach again. I hoped it was the same one. They all look alike. As I put the toothpaste on my brush something caught my eye on the wall above the beds. I saw three more roaches. My roommate saw one and casually asked what it was. I whispered, “They are sewer roaches.” I told her I wasn’t staying in that room. I headed down the elegant red-carpeted staircase to ask for another room. In my sleep-deprived state, it didn’t dawn on me that ours wasn’t the only room with roaches. There were gaps under all the doors that would have allowed roaches to go in and out standing on their hind legs.

Downstairs the desk clerk said, “They will not harm you. They avoid people.” Apparently he wasn’t acquainted with our roaches. One had run over my roommate’s foot before I left. Defeated, I climbed the elegant red-carpeted staircase again. When I got to the room, I told my roommate again I was not staying there. She asked me why. At that very moment, a large brown, shiny, winged roach dropped off the ceiling onto her bed with a thud and headed for her pillow. We turned slowly and looked into each other’s bloodshot eyes. Without another word, we began throwing our belongings into our suitcases and barreled down the steps.

We planned to sleep in the lobby. We were informed that wasn’t possible. Fair enough. We won’t sleep. We will sit. Just sit until the sun came up in three hours. “Not permitted,” he said. He handed me a key. “You go this room. Very nice. Your presidents stay there. That floor has a cat that chases the bugs.”

The elegant red-carpeted staircase by this time had become nothing but a terrific nuisance. I was exhausted and had to pull myself and my luggage up by holding the glistening banister. It was glistening because it was sticky. Out of breath, near tears and now sticky, we entered the new room. I hunted for the cat to close it in our room.  It was nowhere to be seen.  What made us think that cat would stay on the fifth floor when all the roaches were on the other four floors? We had been duped by a desk clerk who was probably accustomed to dealing with fussy American women.

At sunup, we raced out of the room with our still-packed luggage, practically rolling down the five flights of elegant red-carpeted stairs into the lobby and out to the van. They say there are times when unpleasant things happen that one can laugh about later.  This wasn’t one of them. 


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This article has been read 276 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sandra Wells12/09/12
what a beautiful reminder to live life to the fullest and build memories, because life is so very short. I teared up reading your story, but I found myself smiling as well.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/11/12
Well, you may not have been laughing but after the creepies running down by back and disappeared I was chuckling at your story. I think the way you weaved in the staircase was a touch of genius. In the beginning it was the centerpiece of the room as well as the story. You did a grand job of building the conflict at just the right tempo. By the time of checkout the stairs had changed from something beautiful to a nuisance. Great bit of writing.
Beth LaBuff 12/11/12
I love the contrast between the elegant staircase and the roaches. You had me completely captivated with your story. I also reside in Arizona (for the last 9 years) and agree about the interesting insect (and other critter) species. I enjoyed your story. Thanks.
CD Swanson 12/11/12
I was fidgeting in my seat. I deplore roaches. When I was a little girl I had a best friend that lived in the city. I would see an occassional roach running around in her house. But, the insects that really bothered me were the huge waterbugs that hung out under her bathroom sink!

I loved this descriptive piece. It was well written...nicely done.

God bless~
CD Swanson 12/13/12
Congrats! God Bless~