The Stairs Not Taken

The tires crunched as I pulled to the shoulder and parked. How had I never seen them before? I opened the car door.

The ancient stairs were covered in a peeling scale of fallen leaves. Those same leaves that had always hidden the stairs in all the summers of driving by.

What was it about the sight that made my heart go untethered in my chest? What was it about them that spilled hope and fear like a drug in my blood?

They waited.

What would happen if I climbed them? And if I never did, would I always wonder?

100 words

What a delight to find my photo on Fictioneers this morning! Thanks for using it Rochelle. I can’t wait to see where all the Fictioneers go with it.

I don’t know if mine is a story, or just what actually goes through my mind every time I walk by this spot. To date, the stairs remain unclimbed. But the place lives large in my mind as a personal metaphor.

If you’d like to take part in the Friday Fictioneers weekly 100-word challenge, click here. To read other stories inspired by the prompt, go here.

85 Comments

  1. I love this. Leaves one wondering what happens next 🙂 I enjoyed making a happy/sad story for your photo, which I found evocative, to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you found the photo inspiring granonine. I’m looking forward to reading it! Thanks for reading mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Karen

    As you can see, your picture is already taking people in some ominous directions. 😉 Thank you for sharing it. As for your story, I love the descriptions and wondered if this wasn’t your own thoughts. If you ever decide to climb the stairs be sure to share what you find. As always, I enjoy your writing. 😀

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for using my photo! I am not surprised some of the stories have taken an ominous turn. Looking forward to reading them! Thanks for reading mine.

      Like

  3. A peeling scale of fallen leaves. Lovely phrase. I got a strong sense that she knows what is at the top of those stairs or at least has a near idea. Terrific story on its own or it would make an excellent start of a longer one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder… could be! Thanks for reading and commenting jillyfunnel!

      Like

  4. Sort of a spin on The Road Less Traveled, except in this case, The Stairs less Traveled.

    Randy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes for sure they look like the Stairs Less Traveled. Thanks for reading Randy!

      Like

  5. Love this. I always like those stairs, too. I won’t tell you what’s at the top except to say it rhymes with “Noison Mivy”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe, you’re probably right about that! One of these days I’m determined to find out anyway.

      Like

  6. Now that the photo is out there you need to climb the stairs and let us all know 😉 And you know that you -will- always wonder if you don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will. I think I have to go up the stairs now. The challenge is on!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you’re not disappointed – sometimes having a place being a mystery is better than any reality.

        Like

  7. Lovely writing and a witty title

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautifully written, Karen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sandra!

      Like

  9. Something about the way the stairs are waiting for her seems malicious to me. Perhaps best to just carry on driving by. Well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Could be… Thanks so much for reading and commenting Iain!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Simply delightful Karen. Thanks so much for your inspirational picture.

    My FriFic tale is called Solace!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. Looking forward to reading your take!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. And then he climbed up and they got him. The end. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I hope not! Thanks for reading James.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry. First thing that popped into my head.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Climb, Babe, climb! The words of my bestie echoes in my memories… If you don’t climb, you’ll never know what’s there. Love your story…felt the pull to step across the creek and ascend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m wearing the biggest grin right now! Thanks for reading and thanks for the encouragement

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Loved your photo Karen and this story too. So much atmosphere, such lovely writing. Mysterious, wondrous and you make me want to climb those steps with you. Lovely writing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s climb! Thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My total pleasure Karen

        Like

  14. Curiosity like that can be insatiable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can! Thanks for reading, Larry.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. […] back yet again to Rochelle Wisoff~Fields’ Friday Fictioneers . Karen Lee Rawson supplied this week’s photo prompt. Please read our hundred~word […]

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Eek! Don’t know who the waiting ones are, but I wouldn’t climb those steps if I were her!

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  17. Given her feelings, it sounds like a place to avoid, as if something wicked waited there. I enjoyed the descriptions of the feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great picture, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it! Looking forward to reading your take on this photo.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh yes… I love the metaphor in this, also the tie to Frost’s epic poem made me think about what happens if we don’t follow it, what happens. Maybe we just need those enigmas in our lives… Great picture.

    Like

    1. Maybe we do. Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment.

      Like

    1. Thanks pensivity!

      Like

  20. Great story! I like leaving the questions behind. It makes your reader stop and think and usually come away with wondering. 😉

    Like

    1. Thanks for stopping by Courtney!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. wow great writing! Got a little chilled!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much. Delighted you dropped by!

      Like

  22. Magical and creepy, the idea of the stairs that appear from nowhere and yet look as though they’ve always been there. Of course you have to go — don’t you? Or maybe not, and always wonder. Lovely.

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading Joy!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I think it’s one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I would have trouble resisting going up…

    Like

    1. Hehe, remind me never to walk by a haunted house with you 😉

      Thanks for reading, Dale.

      Like

      1. Ha ha!!! I may be all talk… 😉

        Like

  24. Such a great metaphor for taking/not taking a risk in life. Brilliantly written.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much. You made my day. Thanks for reading, Lisarey.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. A mystery and a choice. Climb the stairs!

    Like

    1. Hehe, I’m considering it! Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Excellent read!

    Like

  27. The question that’s been bothering a lot of people right from that little girl Alice. Do I take this path or do I not? Nice tense writing, Karen.

    Like

    1. Thanks so much Varad. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  28. Great story, Karen. I guess it’s a memory of those steps from early childhood making her heart go untethered in her chest. I wonder if the hope you describe relates to a missing parent? She may be sorely disappointed if she climbs and finds merely the mundane – but she’s got to climb, hasn’t she?
    Nice writing!

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading, Penny!

      Like

  29. I love the descriptive language, Karen. “my heart untethered in my chest” especially stands out. Sometimes not knowning (just imagining) what’s at the top of the hill is more magical than actually finding out. Thanks for letting us use your photograph.

    Like

    1. Thank YOU Russell. Very kind of you.

      Like

  30. Really like the reflective tone of your story, and the quiet questions asked but not answered. I think the story works really well with the photo, an invitation to wonder about possibilities. Good story Karen.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Francine!

      Like

  31. Mike

    Curiosity usually pulls me in to check places out. Usually I was disappointed; but nowadays I am glad that I gave into curiosity. As many of the sites I checked out feature in my writing.

    Like

    1. That’s cool. A willingness to explore usually pays off. Thanks for reading, Mike!

      Like

  32. This reads like the beginning of an epic fantasy story. Being so drawn to a place… it almost makes these stairs alive. Now you have to climb them to tell us what you found.

    Like

    1. I will have to climb them. I wanted to this week, but alas it was too busy. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you won’t be disappointed. Maybe you find treasure in that house. 🙂 And thank you for that interesting picture.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re very welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. […] Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and K Rawson for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click […]

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I love the layers to this story – a thriller or a metaphor. Thank you for the photo prompt 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Love your personal metaphor and your thoughts when you see the steps. I love how things can be hidden in summer and when the trees lose their leaves become visible. Thank you for sharing your photo for us to write to.

    Like

    1. Thank for reading and commenting, Irene 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  36. Just take hold and let the adventurous spirit go.

    Like

    1. Probably good advice. Thanks James!

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Don’t stare up the steps, step up the stairs! Or so my dear Nan would say. Nice tone in this story, Karen. Different from your usual style. I like.

    Like

    1. Thanks so much Kelvin, glad you like it! Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  38. I’d definitely wonder my whole life what was up those stairs, if it called out to me in such a way! Climb dear, climb!

    Like

  39. Lovely writing. I would have to climb the steps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love your sense of adventure! Thanks for reading and commenting, Clare.

      Like

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