(A story in honor of Halloween. As the days of October shorten, a young man descends with the sunset shadows down seven cellar stairs. If you're just joining us, you can go back to Part 1.)
Spokes and tires rumbled up the dirt road overgrown. Paulie disappeared before a passing car saw him. Six o'clock was close.
Wind sizzled in the dried leaves, and autumn's moods were blowing. Back and forth. Unsettled.
Paulie reached for the storm doors. He stood and waited for the wind to change again.
It happened. Bits of red sun poked through the continents of clouds. Because the day was older than yesterday, the steep shadow from the Hickory tree now claimed the second stair.
He stepped down one.
He stepped down one more and went no farther.
He closed his eyes as the anxious sky smeared out the sun again.
Mornings loved the mornings smelling your hair when you passed and walking in that slow extra way sorry yes sorry I'm paying attention homework yes I mean no I mean I tried to do my homework but I okay I'll go to the board if you want I'll go and the smirking kid in front doesn't know you hand me the chalk and I touch my finger to your finger natural like and I and I can't make the numbers in my brain because your skin isn’t real I can see through it or sink into it and disappear I could disappear in the round smooth skin you want me you don't want me to see I can't you know I can't stop touching your neck slick and sliding neck is climbing your neck is faster your neck oooh and your neck is going it's going it's STOP YELLING I know it's dinner time Jesus I know I'm coming
Paulie's breaths fluttered as he stumbled back up the two steps. If the sun were out, the shadow would have passed to the third stair.
The storm door banged closed, and fat, sticky raindrops splattered him from the charcoal sky.
On to Part 3.