At the Top of the Stairs

Choose Your Adventure

Write a story or post with an open ending, and let your readers invent the conclusion.


Because  she was protecting her sore back, Leanne chose to wait at the top of the stairs for her clients to come up to her office. It was a small enough building that she could simply call their first names from the top of the stairs, and they would then make the trek and meet her in her office. For returning clients, she would call their names and then return to her desk, asking the client to close the door after entering the office.

First-time clients got a little more personal treatment. Leanne would call their names, then wait  for people to climb the steps. At the top, she would greet the person by name, introduce herself, and usher him into her office.  It worked just fine to do it that way, and it saved her from climbing up and down the steps seven or eight times each day.

There was little-to-no danger in Leanne’s practice. Several other therapists worked in the same building, and there was always a secretary on duty. Each office was equipped with a telephone that could be used as an intercom, or to call an outside line. It was a privately-owned counseling practice, rather than a large social work agency. It was easy to become attached to clients as they poured out their stories.  There were ethical lines that could not be crossed, and they were good boundaries, protecting both the client and the therapist.

Leanne felt very safe and comfortable in the practice, and gave very little thought to any possible danger. There had been only one time in fifteen years that anyone had behaved in a threatening manner, and she had dealt with it pretty quickly without turning to the phone to seek help.

This particular day started like so many others.  It was her first client of the day, at 10 a.m.  He was a new client, and Leanne hadn’t gleaned much information from his intake papers.  Like so many others, he gave very sketchy information as to what brought him in for counseling.  People tend to not want to put their personal stuff on paper. Who knows, after all, who would be looking at that information?

The man responded quickly when Leanne called his name.  It seemed he was the only person in the waiting room, so there was no possibility of confusion.  Standing at the top of the stairs, Leanne was taken by surprise at the size of the man coming up. He was huge, with broad, muscular shoulders. He glanced up at her, and she was surprised again at how handsome he was. You didn’t see a face that good-looking every day!  As he neared the top of the steps, towering over Leanne when he was still three steps down, Leanne held out her hand and smiled.

“Hi, Ben.  My name is Leanne.  It’s nice to meet you!”

“Ben.  I’m Ben.”  No smile, so warmth in the eyes.  He did take her hand, though, and her hand disappeared in his huge paw.  It was kind of overwhelming, actually, and the first frisson of unease shivered down her spine.

“Ok, Ben, come on in and make yourself comfortable on the sofa while I complete the paperwork. Then we can talk.”  Leanne moved to take her hand out of his, but he would not release her. He gripped her more firmly, staring straight into her eyes. Without showing any expression whatsoever, he said, “No. You’re not going to sit down. You’re going to listen to me and do everything I say, exactly as I tell you.  Understand?”

Leanne stared back at him, a deer caught in the headlights of his empty eyes. She nodded, her mouth and throat suddenly too dry to allow her to speak. She glanced at the hallway outside her door, and Ben, without releasing her hand, moved quickly to close the door. He turned the lock, and stepping back toward  her, walked her  to the window near her desk.

“Turn around and look.  It’s two stories.  It might not kill you, but it would hurt you.  A lot.  Are we clear?”


6 thoughts on “At the Top of the Stairs

  1. He wanted information. He wanted his wife’s file. He wanted to know where she was, who was harboring her. He wanted to violate his restraining order.

    All Leanne wanted to do was get close enough to the panic button, which was hidden under the rug, between her desk and the window, so she could compress it with her big toe. Which she did. Just in the nick of time.


  2. She edged a bit of the way away from the window and met his gaze. “Yes, I know you are in charge. I’m not resisting. What do you want me to do?”

    His eyes swept over her body. “Hot in here, don’t you think?” She slipped one shoulder out of the stretchy fabric of her blouse, then started unbuttoning the buttons. He moved up to pull her combs from her hair, then seized her long hair, pulling her to her knees. His eyes fell on the clock on the edge of the desk.

    “How much time do we have today?” he asked.

    “Next client in half an hour. Get back in character, please” she answered, her chin pressed against the side of the desk.

    Even the best psychiatrist needed a bit of time now and then to be out of control. Ben was much better than therapy, and cheaper, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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