He was pasting these sand-paper things on each step, and I said, what now?
Nonskid strips, he said. For safety on the stairs.
Did he mean: for the climb, for security, to hide wear, to prevent a slip, to delay the fall, to slow progress?
To stop yourself, Dubliners-like, halfway up the spiral in a shaft of filtered sunlight. To arrest your foot, keep you aloft, never to depart, an agoraphobia-in-motion of motionless caution, frozen forever on the way, never ascending or descending, arriving, or leaving.
But all I said was, oh.
Then I took his hand and said, let’s go float the Amazon, the Yangtze, let’s climb the Himalayas, the Dolomites, the Alps, let's ride bikes down the Great Divide, hike the Appalachian Trail. Let’s launch into the Hundred Mile Wilderness, let’s zip line, let’s sky dive, let’s hang glide, let’s base jump.
He gazed at me, then eyed the safety strips. But he didn’t pull his hand away.
I said to him: You know what they say. You could always play it safe, go nowhere, then slip in the shower and demise that way.
Right, he said. But I got some for the shower too.