THE SCARY BASEMENT
Every Monday my mom and I did the wash down in the musty basement beneath the Lenox apartment building where we lived. We couldn’t afford using the laundry mat around the corner. I hated going down in that eerie dungeon of blackness with rambling, dark rooms. My mom never flinched as I followed her down the steps into the unknown with only a laundry basket as a weapon. If she wasn’t afraid I wasn’t going to be afraid, either.
My mom taught me to be brave when you had to do what you had to do.
One dim light bulb swung back and forth on a wire the whole time we used the electric washer ringer. It threw shadows of bodies on the wall. The bad light source also kept Mom from noticing how close her fingers were getting to the hungry mouth of the ringer. Her fingers got caught in the rollers when she tried to push a stubborn shirt through. She jerked her hand out and shook it in pain. I thought she lost her fingers but there was no blood. I empathized with her and felt the pain in my own fingers. I watched her remove and pocket the half-smashed high school class ring off her finger. Yikes! Crocodile tears rolled over her high cheek bones and down her face as she did that. With her good hand she started feeding the rest of the wet clothes, one at a time, through the ringer as I handed them to her.
That was the day my mom taught me about perseverance; to not give up when things go wrong!!
Later, when I got a bike for my birthday, I needed a safe place to hide it; I thought of the basement! I remembered my mom’s braveness in facing the dark place beneath the ground every week even when I didn’t always help her. If she could do it alone I could do it alone.
After riding on my new wheels all day over Oakley I had to try my idea before it got too dark. I rode down the alley to the basement steps. Shadows were already forming in the secluded area. I sucked in a deep breath and grabbed the handle bars of the bike and started down the very steep stairs. I inched the bulky, twenty-eight-inch Schwinn bike down the twenty steps, carefully. As much as I dreaded what may be down there waiting for me I soon developed a new fear. My struggle against gravity with a heavy bike gave me the horror of falling.
In the middle of the steps I got another idea. I changed position by getting in front of the bike and leaning over the big front wheel and grabbing the handle bars. As I pushed against the weight of the bike I stepped down the rest of the steps backwards. I was determined to not give up.
I wasn’t about to leave my new bike in the apartment hallway on the ground floor for someone else to take it when it wasn’t even their birthday.