Not Losing My Grip

Sprawled out on the cold, smooth staircase landing, I looked down at my hand. In it, I gripped her leg. It was skinny. She was young, light. I half-expected a look of terror to be on her face, but there wasn't. Instead, she just had a look that said, "what have I done?"

Moments earlier, I had been running up the marble staircase, choosing not to take the elevator. I don't always take the elevator when the stairs are easily accessible. I couldn't remember if my mother's hotel room was on the first or the third floor. You know how sometimes you think you're on the main level, but the lobby of the hotel is on either the lower level or on the 2nd Floor? This time it was a combination of that, and me not really remembering what floor I was told she was staying on.

My mother was moving house, and was staying in the hotel for a couple of weeks while her new place was painted and cleaned. I stopped by to see her at the hotel and to enjoy the pool and whirlpool. Looking back, I was perhaps a little too excited to get to the pool and not really paying attention to where I was going.

Hurrying down the first floor hallway, none of the doors looked familiar. I know what you're thinking: why would a door in a hotel look familiar? Don't they all look the same? Well, yes, but none of the doors I saw seemed to be placed right in the hotel layout to be the right one. And I'm never one to remember the room number as much as where I found the room. Was it close to a corner? Near an elevator? Sharing a wall with a stairwell?

Right. The stairwell.

This staircase wasn't one of those internal staircases that you're supposed to remember how many paces it is from you room, and in what direction, in case you find yourself in a situation where you can't see two feet in front of your face through all the smoke and heat, and the fire bells are ringing so loud that you can't possibly think. I remember the silliest things sometimes. Rarely do I pace out the escape route from my hotel room, though.

This staircase was one of those wide, elaborately built marble and steel structures that led from the lobby level (the first floor?) to the third floor, stopping in at the mezzanine level, where you'll often find the hotel fitness room or the cafe that overlooks the pool. Remembering now, it was more like a mall with all that open space. A pool that large commanded a lot of attention, and that's just what the staircase, the glass-walled fitness room, and outdoor (though inside) cafe gave it. It was a fine view indeed.

But I wasn't interested in the view. I had my head down and I was taking the stairs two by two, hoping to find the right floor and a door which led to the rooms nestled inside the hotel, half of which would also overlook the enormous atrium. My friends were somewhere near the pool expecting me to show up, but first I had to check in with my mother before going off to enjoy myself with a dip in the refreshing pool and some peaceful indulgence of the hot tub.

Bounding up the stairs, eyes at my feet, I couldn't have known she was coming down. The staircase was so wide, unfortunate coincidence had us on the same path, destined for collision. I held the mahogany and iron railing on my way up, using it as leverage to help me take the deep-tread stairs two at a time. I hurried. I shouldn't have. She was quickly padding down, holding the only railing on the half open staircase. Only now do I ask myself: why was there no other railing?

The outer part of the staircase, at least on the landing, had no railing. No barrier, only a faux rock construction that fit well with the desert mountain range motif, in which the pool area played the lead role as oasis. Perhaps they figured the small curb-like structure on the floor would suggest that onlookers keep back from the generous ledge. As I said, it seems impossible to me now.

We collided.

I looked up only after feeling her shoulder strike my downcast head, regret almost instantaneous. She lost her balance and unsuccessfully tried to find her center of gravity. Then she hit the small curb which resulted in her being splayed out, toppling, and heading for the pool deck far below.

Momentarily coming to my senses and seeing the danger, I leapt forward to grab her, seeing that she could not control her momentum enough to grab on to something and right herself. Her ankle was the only thing left to grab. The rest of her had progressed onto and nearly over the faux-mountain embankment. I forgot about my friends, and about my mother. It's funny how you can lose yourself entirely in situations that need your full attention.

I lay on the marble landing, my chest on the floor, hand tightly gripping the girl.

Grasping her wiry frame, I finally got a good look at her. She was young and pretty, and dressed in shorts and a tee shirt. She had a look of youthful innocence in her dress, but her features told of a young girl in that awkward stage where she was expected to be both young and mature at the same time. Right now, she was just lost in the moment, trying to figure out what happened, and why she was flat on her back, in danger of slipping over the edge.

Her facial expression said that she was sorry for whatever she had done to cause this situation. Immediate guilt. Perhaps she was a clumsy type, always running into people and tripping over sidewalk cracks. I didn't have time to even admit to myself that this was half my own fault. I just needed to make it right.

I calmed my nerves and pulled.

She moved easily enough. I pictured myself as one of those strong movie heroes who could hold on to someone in danger until they were pulled to safety. It wasn't quite like that, though. I was strong enough to work her back up to the flat part of the ledge so that she could regain her balance and right herself.

She stood and briefly fixed her hair and brushed herself off.

We said nothing and parted ways. I waited until she had finished descending the long flight of stairs and had disappeared from sight before doing the same. I forgot about seeing my mother and instead went to find my friends and tell them what happened. On the way, I thought to myself: Man, that was crazy. I've got to write about this.

And when you're dreaming about blogging, you know you're in trouble.

Day 10

Posted bythemikestand at 6:50 AM  

3 stepped up to the mike:

Sassy said... 10:36 AM, November 10, 2006  

Nice one!! I can totally picture the girl's face...I am also always running into people/things and tripping over nothing. That's why it's funny that my middle name actually IS "Grace."

sween said... 11:24 AM, November 10, 2006  

For a little while I thought you were a superhero.

And then I realised you were just dreaming of being a superhero.

So now we have that in common too!

Brianna said... 7:01 PM, November 11, 2006  

This is so well written -- great job!

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