“Bang Bang on the Stair”

Diane Williams

January 25, 2016 
The following is from Diane Williams’s Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine. Williams is the author of several short story collections and the founder and editor of the literary annual NOON.

I said, “Would you like a rope? You know that haul you have is not secured properly.”

“No,” he said, “but I see you have string!”

“If this comes into motion—” I said, “you should use a rope.”

“Any poison ivy on that?” he asked me, and I told him my rope had been in the barn peacefully for years.

He took a length of it to the bedside table. He had no concept for what wood could endure.

“Table must have broken when I lashed it onto the truck,” he said.

And, when he was moving the sewing machine, he let the cast iron wheels—bang, bang on the stair.

I had settled down to pack up the flamingo cookie jar, the cutlery, and the cookware, but stopped briefly, for how many times do you catch sudden sight of something heartfelt?

I saw our milk cows in their slow parade in the pasture and then the calf broke through with a leap from behind—its head was up, its forelegs spread.

“Don’t leave!” Mother screamed at me, and she had not arrived to help me.

She tripped and fell over a floor lamp’s coiled electrical cord.

There’s just a basic rule of conduct that applies here—also known as a maxim—so I held out my hand.

She gripped and re-gripped my palm hard and all of my fingers before hoisting herself by pulling on me.

She kept tugging on my hand on her deathbed also for a long stretch, until she died. For don’t little strokes fell great oaks?

A girl from the neighborhood rang the bell today to ask if I had a balloon. I didn’t have any and I hadn’t seen one in years.

“That ’s all you need?” I asked her. “How about some string?”

I noticed that the girl’s eyes were bright and intelligent and that she was delighted, possibly with me.

I went to search where I keep a liquid-glue pen, specialty tape, and twine. I kept on talking while I pawed around for some reason in the drawer.




From FINE, FINE, FINE, FINE, FINE. Used with permission of McSweeney’s. Copyright © 2016 by Diane Williams.

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