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.


  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.

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

  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. 😀



    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.

  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.

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

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


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

  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”

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

  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.

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

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

  7. Lovely writing and a witty title

  8. Beautifully written, Karen.

    1. Thanks so much Sandra!

  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.

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

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

    My FriFic tale is called Solace!

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

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

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

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

  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!

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

    1. Thanks for reading!

  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

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

      1. My total pleasure Karen

  14. Curiosity like that can be insatiable.

    1. It can! Thanks for reading, Larry.

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

  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

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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

  18. Great picture, by the way.

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

  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.

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

    1. Thanks pensivity!

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

    1. Thanks for stopping by Courtney!

  21. wow great writing! Got a little chilled!

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

  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.

    1. Thanks for reading Joy!

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

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

      Thanks for reading, Dale.

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

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

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

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

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

  26. Excellent read!

  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.

    1. Thanks so much Varad. Thanks for reading!

  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!

    1. Thanks for reading, Penny!

  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.

    1. Thank YOU Russell. Very kind of you.

  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.

    1. Thank you so much Francine!

  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.

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

  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.

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

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

      2. You’re very welcome.

  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 […]

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

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  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.

    1. Thank for reading and commenting, Irene 🙂

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

    1. Probably good advice. Thanks James!

  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.

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

  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!

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

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

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