“Thanks so much for coming,” Floyd said to each guest traipsing down the stairs. “Really glad you were here.”
Joel, the last guest to have arrived, led the line, and Nathanael, the first guest, brought up the rear.
“Bye, Nathanael!” said a high flute-like voice.
Nathanael turned to see onezero standing behind the stairs.
“Are you coming, onez?” he asked. “It’s time to head home.”
“Oh,” onezero laughed. “We’ll see!”
Nathanael walked out the front door, and onezero looked around. The wall was a very nice shade of gray.
“onezero!” said Cathy, as she headed upstairs to help clean up after the party. “What are you doing there?”
“Why, hello, Cathy!” replied onezero. “I really had a lovely time at the party. Didn’t you? All that music! All that food! So many friends!”
“Yes, but what are you doing behind the stairs?” Cathy asked.
“Oh, that!” said onezero. She laughed again. “You see, they were coming down, and I was going up, and I thought it best to get out of the way, and so here I am!”
“Well, can you come out the same way you got in?” Cathy asked.
“Oh, well. I don’t really think so. I seem to be here now.”
Cathy headed upstairs to tell Cypress and J. P.
“So, I guess I’m just moving in back here,” onezero said when her great niece and nephew came down.
“What are we going to do?” asked Cypress.
“Maybe she can crawl out between the stairs,” said J. P.
“Can you fit between the stairs?” asked Cypress.
“Oh, well, no. I don’t think that’s possible,” said onezero.
“But that’s how you got in there, right, Aunt onez?” asked J. P.
“Oh, well. I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” said onezero. “Plus you know how unidirectional ports of entry work. No, this is just fine. I am really quite content back here.”
J. P. and Cypress walked a few paces off to discuss what they might do.
“You see,” continued onezero, to no one in particular, “sometimes the Universe has ways of placing us where we’re meant to be! What may seem like a possible pickle could actually turn out to be something quite desirable after all!”
“Take this little room where I find myself, for example. To some, it may seem like a strange mishap that I’m here. But really, this is where I am meant to be. Why, it is quite comfortable! And look! There’s no one around. I have all the solitude I could ever desire. And if I ever want to talk to someone, then J. P. will stop by. And if I get hungry, he will bring me something to eat.
“J.P.?” she called.
There was no answer.
“I suppose the experience of hunger is something I can explore!” she told herself. “What is it really, but another sensation?”
She closed her eyes. She was not hungry at that moment.
In fact, with the gray walls close around her, she felt very peaceful, protected.
The stairs worked as an amplifier, and she could hear the voices of the one thousand mommies exceptionally clearly as they sang to her of the mysteries of the universe.
“Right,” said J. P. “I’ll just go and get the carpenter, then.”
“Is Aunt onezero going to be ok?” asked Sempervirens.
“Oh, yes,” said Cypress. “J. P. will get her out!”
A few hours and much sawing and banging later, the carpenter had installed an archway into the space behind the stairs.
“We’ll call this onezero’s room,” said J. P. “And we’ll reserve it for you. Anytime you want to come back, your room will be ready and waiting.”
“How nice,” said onezero as she made her way out to the open space. “You really are a thoughtful nephew.”