Where the Staircase Ends
by Stacy Stokes
Publication date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
After her best friend orchestrates the lie that destroys her reputation, Taylor wants more than anything to disappear from her life. But when an accident turns this unspoken wish into reality, instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase into the sky.
Instead of going up, the journey plunges her into the past. As she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal, she must face the truth about life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable — unless the staircase breaks her first.
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This time I wasn’t surprised when I appeared back on the staircase. The posters on my bedroom wall faded into a blue sky, and like before, my feet were moving up the steps like they’d never stopped. Was it possible to be in two places at once?
I squinted against the bright afternoon, searching the steps. Something green swayed in the distance. At first I thought it was another ghost waiting to torture me, but as I got closer I saw that it was nothing more than the reaching stem of a sunflower.
Weird. I climbed closer to the plant. It was the first sign of life I’d seen since appearing on the staircase. How had a flower managed to grow in the middle of bumblebutt nowhere?
The green stalk stretched up through a crack in the stone until it was almost at my knees. Bright leaves splayed helter-skelter along the stem, and at the top sat a perfect circle of yellow petals, opened like a palm toward the sky.
There was something brave about the flower, something defiant in the way it broke through the steps like nothing could hold it back. Maybe my brain was still mash-potatoed from the car crash, but I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
I wanted it. No, I needed it. There was no way I could take another step without having the perfect yellow petals to keep me company.
I wrapped my hands around the stem, surprised at how sturdy it felt, and gave it a sharp tug.
The flower didn’t move.
I tried again, this time pulling and yanking and twisting with everything I had, but the damn thing wouldn’t budge. It stayed rooted in place like it was planted in cement.
Something inside me snapped. It wasn’t just the flower—it was everything. The staircase. Sunny. Logan. Justin. It all welled up inside me until I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to take it all out on the immobile flower. The stupid, stupid flower that was so hell-bent on staying put.
I jumped on top of it, using my heels to grind the stem into the staircase. I kicked it and clawed it, then hopped and danced and jumped until I was sure the flower was mashed into paste.
But when I stepped to the side to admire my destruction, the flower looked unfazed. Its leaves still stretched toward the sky, and its yellow petals beamed as brightly as ever. It was as if nothing happened.
As if I didn’t exist.
Stacy Stokes attended the University of Texas at Austin and The Wharton School of Business. She grew up in Dallas, TX, and currently lives in San Francisco with her husband. WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS is her first novel.
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