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“There is a space under the stairs at my parents’ house. When I was small enough I could get into the space by opening the storage area door and squeezing my way between the hot water heater and the frame of the stairs. When I got too big, I would move the stand where my dad kept the newspapers after he was done with them. The space is almost full up now. My dad installed a safe in there when I was in high school.

It was warm and humid in there, on account of the hot water heater being there. It was windowless and had no light source, not even a bare bulb in the storage area. I built nests in there with quilts from the linen closets and the pillow from my bed. I brought my books, the notebooks with leftover paper from the end of last school year, and pens from the plastic movie character fast-food promotion cup that my mother kept in the cupboard above the fridge.

I would read and write by flashlight until my dad would yell at me for being so close to the water heater. I would build again when my dad left to do something and then my mum would yell at me to remind me that my father hated when I hid out under the stairs. I had my own room, she reminded me. Go and read in there.”

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