The Squeaky Floorboard

by | Sep 29, 2022 | 0 comments

Write a story. Don’t think about it, just write. Title it “The Squeaky Floorboard.” It’s about a woman who wakes up next to a man she occasionally sleeps with. She doesn’t like the fact that she sleeps with him. She wakes up early one morning and finds something under a floorboard in his bedroom.

The Squeaky Floorboard. 

She wakes up at dawn, while he is still snoring. She tries not to make noise, but she knows there’s a squeaky floorboard next to the bed. She steps over it and goes to the kitchen to get some water. She accidentally steps on the floorboard on the way back, but the sound doesn’t wake him. She kneels down and pulls up the loose board. She finds a book there, wrapped in old newspaper.

No. Start again. It should have more detail. Start at the bar. Give her a name. Describe her hair. Describe why she goes home with him even though she knows she shouldn’t. Describe his stubble and the way his little bedroom looks like a cabin on a boat because of the white painted wood panels. 

The Squeaky Floorboard. 

Her name is Anna. She’s had too much to drink and when she’s had too much to drink he looks very handsome, with his salt and pepper hair and his well worn black suit. 

They are at the bar they always go to, surrounded by friends. They have taken over most of the establishment.

She can tell he’s actively trying not to look at her. There is power in that and she likes it. He talks with his hands and everyone listens to what he has to say. She remembers the last time she let him touch her, how his hands were strong and at the same time delicate. As she looks down at the bright green slice of lime in her gin and tonic, she hears everyone laugh at his anecdote. She thinks about how bad she feels after she goes home with him. She thinks about how she leaves whatever bar they are at without him, then circles back so their friends won’t know, though she’s sure they have all figured it out. 

No. It’s not right. Start again.

The Squeaky Floorboard. 

He is older. Anna should know better. In the morning he looks dashing, with the blue light of the overcast sky coming in through the small window. How the white painted panels of his bedroom make it look like a cabin on a boat. How she feels bad when she goes home with him, but sometimes feeling bad is the only way she can come.

Her knees hurt because the old wood floor is splintered and uneven. There are little black heads of little blacks nails sticking up in places. She’s constantly getting runs in her stockings on that damn floor. She winces every time she steps on the squeaky floorboard.

She lifts the uneven board. She wonders if it’s his hiding place. She wonders if he keeps drugs or money there, even though she knows those things have set places in his elaborately organized drawers. She has seen them. Rolls of fifties and a sugar bowl of cocaine. It makes him seem like a criminal and not a doctor. It makes her feel provincial because they are commonplace to his friends and still frightening to her.

The way the board lifts slowly makes it seem like it has never been pulled up before.

She looks up at the bed. Only a sliver of his chiseled chin is visible. He is still snoring. He is handsome. She feels like a little girl doing something bad.

She is a little girl doing something bad. She went home with him again. The tears start in her chest and head to her throat where she swallows them down.

She is an adult and she can sleep with whomever she wants. What they do isn’t hurting anyone. She wants to believe that.

Under the board there are bits of rust brown wood and dust and one little crawly bug. It smells of mildew. The edge of something gray peaks out. A rectangle wrapped in paper, like a parcel. A book.

She hears something behind her.

No. Again. 

The Squeaky Floorboard. 

Her name is Anna. She is twenty-five. She has promised herself she wouldn’t go home with him perhaps one hundred times. She has successfully stayed away eighty-five times.

His name is Hugh. He is forty. He is very handsome. He is a doctor. Her mother told her she should marry a doctor. He is a doctor, but he will never marry her. He is a doctor, but he will never meet her mother.

He likes to fuck younger women who are very smart and a bit depressed. Anna’s best friend Leah calls him the “wounded bird collector.”

No. The Squeaky Floorboard.

Anna is confident he will not wake up until his alarm goes off. He never does. He snores lightly, but rests soundly. Like everything he does, he sleep diligently. He sleeps for the amount of time he has set aside for sleep. He doesn’t deviate from his schedule.

She wonders if he schedules fucking her. It seems unlikely that he wouldn’t calculate the extra few hours he would spend between her legs. He must know when she will follow him home. In her own way she is as predictable as he is.

He said he liked her large sad eyes and how she reads poetry before bed. Her friend Leah called him the “wounded bird collector.” He likes them young, well-educated, and longing. 

At twenty-five, she is just a pretty thing he occasionally fucks. She knows that. He is nice enough to her, even kind and sweet, but when it is time for her to go home it’s always written in his eyes. 

Yes, she can make them some coffee. Yes, she is welcome to take a shower. 

He never really answered her other questions about his day. Vague comments about meetings and the gym. Nothing concrete, just the tightening of his lips. 

“Where are you off to now?” he says with a smile that stopped at his mouth. 

Weighty words that make her stomach drop.

No. The Squeaky Floorboard. 

The white painted wood paneling on the walls make the room look like a cabin on a boat. The blue light of the overcast sky hang in a triangle on the ceiling where the shutters on the window are open.

Unshaven, Hugh’s chiseled jaw takes on a blue tinge too. He is handsome. For a moment Anna understands exactly why she still goes home with him from time to time. Even if he is fifteen years older than her and mature in ways she can’t fathom. Because he is fifteen years older than her and a doctor and stronger and taller and frightening when he takes off his belt. Because she needs to be a little frightened for it to work.

He is a doctor. What is she? A law school dropout? A media something? A glorified personal assistant?

She slips from under his thin white covers and lands catlike on the rough wood floor. The grains of the warped, cracked, and splintered floor feel good on the smooth arches of her feet.

She tiptoes across the small bedroom, navigating around the squeaky floorboard.

In the living room there is the trail of their discarded clothes. It makes her smile. Her silky dress a puddle of red on the floor making the whole thing seem sordid and illicit.

The tiles in the kitchen are cold, but thankfully so is the water from the tap.

Back in his room she contemplates her next steps. She still has two hours before he wakes. She could just leave. She has done that before and he never mentions it, except for that one time she left her underwear. 

He gave them back to her in a neat little padded manilla mailing envelope. It smelled like the laundry detergent the place he sent his clothes uses.

How could someone live with a squeaky floorboard, especially someone so fastidious? There is a little hole in the board and so when she kneels down next to it she is able to get a hold of the slightly rotting wood and pull it up. There is really only one black nail holding it down.

She feels a bit like a detective in that moment, or a spy. It feels good. She is a curious cat of a girl, constantly reading mysteries novels. Maybe the squeaky floorboard holds the mystery of Dr. Hugh and his unavailable heart.

Under the floorboard is a tiny world of dirt and dust and splintered wood. There is far too much dust for it to be something Hugh uses as a hiding place. Peeking out of the filth is the corner of something gray. She pulls out was is obviously a book wrapped in old newspaper.

“What are you doing down there?”

The Squeaky Floorboard. 

Kneeling on his floor, Anna feels the weight of that night’s choices on her shoulders. She sniffles, tired of lying to herself. Tired of promising herself she wouldn’t fuck him and then giving in. Tired of ordering more gin and tonics even though she knew she was just getting herself drunk enough to go back to his apartment.

She looks up at the bed, at the handsome doctor who is so much older and smarter and cooler. She curses him under her breath and curses at his ability to sleep through anything but his stupid high-tech alarm clock.

She hates his beautiful bohemian apartment with its interesting art on the walls and its crooked elegance. She hates his charming little bedroom with the white painted wood paneling that made it look like a fucking cabin on a boat. She hates the splintering warped cracked floor and the stupid squeaky floor board. She hates being just another fucked up graduate student almost half his age. Just another sad girl for the “wounded bird collector.”

She pokes at the loose floorboard and her finger traces the small hole in the wood. She thinks about when she was a teenager, before she was a mess of lost jobs and lost loves. She thinks about when the world was trees to climb and innocent little mysteries to solve. Before she was a failed adult and disappointment to her father. 

She swallows bile and the tears that are building. 

She pulls up the board, not caring if it ruins the floor.

In the dust and splinters she sees a little book wrapped in newspaper.

She just wants something. Maybe some secret that will explain him to her. Maybe something that will make him hate her so he wouldn’t ask her to come back to his apartment anymore. Maybe she wants something really scary to happen. Maybe she wants to push him too far.

Is that what she really wants? Some way out of the cycle?

She pushes the board back down and looked up to see him turn.

“What are you doing down there?”

“Trying to fix this stupid board,” she says in a numb flat voice, hoping the icy tendrils of anxiety don’t  make her words crack.

“Leave it, come back to bed.”



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