You might think that it’s an easy ask; climb the stairs and elevate, raise yourself from one to two. That’s what stairs are for, after all. But look more closely, at the corner, where the cobwebs stretch between the steps. Do you see it? Do you see the hinge?
Stairs are not doors. They do not lead from room to room, unless they’re split by wooden planks held up by bare supports, straining to uphold the lofty dreams of their architect. What business has a hinge impinging where it has no place, or function? Well. There can be no accounting for some things in this house. It’s not so strange when you consider that a house, once lived in, accrues far stranger things — the inexplicable clutter of the knick-knack-strewn cutlery drawer; the clothes draped over chairs and beds and tables that multiply like life organic; the bike in the garage that I swear I’ll ride, dad, when I find the time, when things quiet down at work. Get off my back, dad, I said I’d ride it.
Still, the hinge is not much like those other things. The rest of it is careless post-mess, after-junk, scattered senseless by-products of crass inhabitation. But the hinge came before. An ante-puzzle set prior to our arrival, predating all attempts to figure out its purpose. Its very unresolvedness tests our grasp of history and precludes a neutral home environment, because I just can’t work with it hanging over my head! Or under, if you insist.
I climbed that staircase once. I tried, at least. I summoned up the nerve to pass that solemn hinge, determined to give truth to the real-estate agent’s claim of a tidy two-floor homestead. But halfway up, I stopped.
Stairs, as you know, are rarely complex constructs. Straight and straightforward, spiced up on occasion with a faux-Baroque sweep or a sudden-landing switchback, compacted nice and neat to fit strict inner-city confines. These stairs, though, were complex — not in their design, no, for from the ground floor they flew up, a plateau-studded flight with absolutely no tricks in store. Yet as I climbed, they twisted unpleasantly, bucking beneath me even as they stayed perfectly still, like good stairs should. They bent away from me in some eccentric higher dimension that I couldn’t see but quite unfairly could be thrown by. I remember being angry at perspective — those meddling Romantics didn’t know what force they’d woken with their ‘experimental’ art — but it was the hinge that was to blame. Its malicious torque disturbed my balance and sent me tumbling back down, embarrassed at my failure in such a basic task as climbing the stairs.
Let me tell you, though, what I glimpsed at the top of those twisted steps. Another hinge, connected at the corner in the same way as the first, a pointless point of anchorage. It’s my suspicion — and no, I can’t prove it, dad, but listen — that this other hinge is responsible for my troubles. A single hinge is insufficient for so vast a flight of stairs, but two? Well, with two hinges and a lever big enough, I could turn the world.