The Forth Stair

I counted the stairs. Every time I went up or down the stairs, I counted the stairs. The fourth stair up, I had to step over on the way up. The eleventh step on the way down. I had to step over it. The baseboard had a hole in it. It probably, when it was put in, was supposed to be for a stair. It was stair shaped. It was only on the living-room side of the room. Things disappeared into that hole. Pencils. Change. Things. When I was little I was shown where the hole was supposed to have gone. Into the closet in the living-room. The closet that no one EVER went in to. Occasionally someone would open the door. To get out one of the TV trays. Or the cool little lap tray. We didn’t use them often, with their painted on fruit and the metal legs.
Supposedly, the hole in the stairway went there.
Just a closet.
Nothing scary there.
But…
But I always had to step over that stair, the one where the triangle extra hole was.
I was sure, even up until I was a teenager, that there would be a hand, if I stepped on that stair tread, that would shoot out and grab me by the ankle.
I don’t know if that hand would have drug me down into the hole, or as far as I would fit. I don’t know where any of the things went that disappeared down into that hole. I was sure I didn’t ever want to find out.
That closed closet door, in the living room, that lead to the room under the stairs, didn’t open for years and years and years. Why? What was in there that everyone wanted to hide? Or was everyone as scared of whatever lived behind that hole as I was?

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