General Fiction posted December 2, 2023 Chapters:  ...15 16 -17- 18... 

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
The childhood hallway was another place of much activity

A chapter in the book A Particular Friendship

The Hallway

by Liz O'Neill

As we study Lizzy's childhood we find much of her joy and exploits occurred around the hallway

Previously: After an accident surgery was required.
I remember the sweet sickening, swirling blackness of the ether, enveloping me, creating an increasing fear that I would disappear into nothingness and never return. 


I’d felt invisible most of my life thus far, anyway,  but this was the real thing for me.  And worse yet, Mother was out having a cigarette when I woke.  I was sick, scared and vomiting. 

I  felt abandoned. It did not matter that the nurse told me my mother was just outside having a cigarette. I know Mother felt horrible, like a bad mother, like she didn’t have a right to take a break. 


This did not dampen the way Nike and I played around. There was no difference, just because I had stitches.  One time when I was sliding down the banister railing to get away from Nike, I ripped out some of my stitches.  

Another time, I got going too fast on my crutches and ripped out some more. I wasn’t going to let stitches prevent me from riding my bicycle.  Besides the fact that my leg has grown, I do have a good-sized scar there. 


The Hallway  

I do have to confess here I took joy in tormenting my one year younger brother Nike.  I know he secretly loved chasing me down into the brook, just a little terrified. Let’s face it, we loved all aspects of the adrenaline-pumping game.

When I knew Nike was headed up the stairs to use the bathroom, I scurried into the bathroom, closed and locked the door. I was just in time to leave Nike on the outside crying, hammering with sometimes angry fists and most times just determined fists.  

I would step up onto the toilet seat and heft myself to the narrow high window sill, drop onto the outside roof, cross to my parents’ room and sneak out into the hallway where my brother was still pleading at the bathroom door to let him in.  

When he saw me he chased after me as I ran back the way I’d come, this time having to frantically heist myself up to the high chin-level exterior sill.  

Sometimes my brother got ahead of me, locking the bathroom window. This put him in control of the bathroom, where he wanted to be, to begin with. If I got in through the window first, I would lock it and rush out through the bathroom door and down the stairs to get as far away from him as I could. I was sure he was going to kill me. 

It all ended when I ran down over the neighbor's bank of broken cans and glass into the brook. After chasing me, he probably went back upstairs to use the bathroom as he had originally planned. This ritual was carried on day after day, either running for the bathroom or running for the brook.

Off that same hallway was Nike’s room with a spacious closet, a safe place for both of us. I don’t remember why we went there to hide among the heavy overcoats, way in the back on the floor.  I know it wasn’t to get away from Nike because I’d often meet him there.  He’d be planted on a high shelf above me, covered with more coats.  If I got there ahead of him, I’d have him cover me with coats previous to his climb to his hiding place. 
 After a while, the pattern of coats was pretty well established and I would just run and dive under them before our mother came up the stairs.  When I think back, it doesn’t feel like it was a game. I don’t know what happened initially. 
It must have been something that angered our mother. I don’t imagine she’d really do anything to us if she ever caught us. As she peered into the darkened closet she may have smiled knowing just where we were and walked away leaving us with the belief we had outsmarted her.
There were times when we played tricks on our mother. Plans were hatched in that same hallway.  You see, my family was one of the first in the neighborhood to get black and white television.
Because my father had to have the lamp off, I imagined myself to be like Abraham Lincoln who had to read by the light from a candle or fireplace. I wonder if he got an astigmatism as I did as a result from doing my homework by the light of Hop-a-long Cassidy’s campfire. 
Those television shows gave us fodder for activities to act out. We loved playing hotel,  not the sort kids might play today. This was modeled after Billy the Kid and Whip Lash Wilson.  No Annie Oakley for me; my little sister got to play her.  
My grandfather, who died when I was three, left behind a ledger from his blacksmith business and Mother let us use it for our hotel ledger.  Later Mother said, “That that ledger was probably worth a lot of money before you kids scribbled all over it with your favorite crayon.” 
I bet it would be worth even more money now with all of our famous signatures in it.  I wonder where it is now and who is raking in all of the dough.
We had a rule that you had to check your guns at the desk when you signed in.  It seemed to be on the honor system as there was no one to be the desk clerk, We were busy robbing banks, with Annie Oakley tagging along. 
The bank was actually a low cupboard in the kitchen, not used for very much except storing Mother’s loot.  Because each feared the other would get more candy, we fought so much that Mother said we had to divide up the spoils. 
Being the oldest usually meant being blamed for stuff I didn’t do, but this time it worked out for the better. I got to divide up the three bags of various flavors of candy and make some of the rules.  It was decided that the leftovers, those not in multiple of three, would go to Mother.  We agreed to put them safely in the cupboard for her. She was going to have all of the leftovers.
We went back to our hotel to rest, checking our guns at the desk.  One might imagine we didn’t take a very long rest and were soon grabbing our guns, to hold up an otherwise occupied bank clerk.  

It seemed Mother was always in the kitchen cooking, washing dishes,  or cleaning up.  This made it quite easy to sneak up on her, dial open the imaginary combination to the safe, grab the goods, and high-tail it back to the hotel to divide up the day’s take. 

The yummy, coveted, sweet, chewy leftovers, numbering one or two, were placed back in the safe, ensuring our fun would continue until the next bank deposit. When that was carried out a fresh plan for another stickup could be formulated.  


Unlike some readers, my childhood home felt safe and I hope I am capturing some of that in this chapter .
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2024. Liz O'Neill All rights reserved.
Liz O'Neill has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.