One Step at a Time


George stood at the bottom of the stone steps leading to the top of the grassy hill. He looked up toward the top and started counting the steps, reaching twenty before he had to stop, as the steps above the twentieth were difficult to individually discern from his vantage point.

He sighed, remembering when, in his youth, he would have been able to vault up these steps and reach the top without even breathing hard. But that was then. These days George knew that he would be winded before he reached the twentieth step, realizing that even then he would barely be half-way to the top.

“You can do it, George,” he said aloud to himself, as no one else was within ear shot. “One step at a time, George. No rush. No records to set. No pressure.”

Taking deep breath, George lifted his right leg, pushed down with his left, and almost willed himself forward to scale the first step. He continued this process in a slow, deliberate, and determined way, one step after the other, counting each step until he reached the twentieth, where he pause and looked back down the hill.

George paused on that twentieth step, breathing deeply and trying to calm his rapidly beating heart. As he looked up toward the crest of the hill, he sensed that the incline had become even steeper than the portion he had just completed. “One step at a time, George. No rush. No records to set. No pressure,” he repeated as he started the next part of the ascent.

He stopped counting each step as he conquered it, concentrating instead on managing his heartbeat and controlling his breathing. He didn’t know how long it took to get there, but he finally managed to make it to the very top step.

As he stepped onto that final stone at the top of the hill, George saw a little figure running toward him. “See Grandpa, I told you could do it,” shouted the little figure, who ran up to George and hugged the old man’s legs.

“Anything for you, Tommy,” George said, patting the head of the boy who had vaulted up the steps without even breathing hard just moments before.

This post was written for this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) challenge. Thanks to Michael MorpethroadΒ for turning me on to this weekly challenge.

Image: JS Brand

30 thoughts on “One Step at a Time

  1. Michael July 17, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Well it’s a great story and one I do relate to, that notion of determination to get to the top and remembering what it was once like to be as your grandson and run up said steps without a moment’s hesitation. I try and walk often for no other reason than it makes me feel good and I can walk up stairs without puffing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 18, 2017 / 10:00 pm

      I walk a lot, too, thanks in large part to an old dog that needs to be walked four times a day. But at least I’m getting in my 10,000+ steps a day and I do enjoy those walks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael July 18, 2017 / 11:04 pm

        Do you know the 10,000 step thing is an arbitrary number? Someone thought it a good number for reasons that escape me now. The truth of your walk is in your enjoyment, that I think is most important.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sight11 July 17, 2017 / 8:41 pm

    Hey great post.. But what do the three last words mean, On the head..


  3. Sight11 July 17, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    Sorry.. I just realised the narrative of patting being broken down. Missed the comma completely. I apologise..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 17, 2017 / 10:15 pm

      No worries. I agree that that sentence was awkwardly structured. I probably should have said “patting the head of the boy who who had vaulted up the steps without even breathing hard.” Good, constructive observation, Sight.


    • Fandango July 17, 2017 / 10:16 pm

      See how I replied to you following comment. In fact, I’m going to edit the post right now to make the fix.


      • Sight11 July 17, 2017 / 10:35 pm

        Delete this comment after reading it. I just realised you can’t end a sentence with ‘before’. How about this, ‘who just moments before (had) vaulted up those (or the) steps without breaking a sweat..

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Martin Cororan July 18, 2017 / 1:32 am

    …As a man teetering on middle-age I am starting to relate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 18, 2017 / 4:43 pm

      I’m a few years past “middle-age,” so yeah, I can relate, too. That said, I think I could still manage the climb a little better than George did in this story. Thanks for stopping by.


  5. Iain Kelly July 18, 2017 / 1:50 am

    We can all relate to this as we get older – the stairs at my work leave me out of breath every morning these days! Lovely tale.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 18, 2017 / 6:34 am

      Thanks. Yes, stairs become more daunting as each year goes by, don’t they?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Priceless Joy July 18, 2017 / 6:45 am

    Lovely story! I kept thinking that maybe he only had one leg and prosthetic. But age can certainly do that too! I saw several areas where you could have shortened your story without interfering with the story and make it less bulky. Please keep your stories to 75-175 words. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 18, 2017 / 7:24 am

      Yep, next time I’ll pay more attention to the rules. I will be sure to trim the fat.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. michael1148humphris July 18, 2017 / 4:15 pm

    Lovely story, which many ill or frail people will relate to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 18, 2017 / 4:38 pm

      Thanks. I like to think I have a few more years left before I would look at those steps in the same way George does in this story. But you never know for sure, do you?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sandi July 18, 2017 / 9:40 pm

    crest of the hill, – I was trying to think of another word to insert in my writing! There it is “crest of the hill” – Great story! I would have been worried about looking back, losing balance, and with no rail to hold – get vertigo –
    & TUMBLE down the hill. NOW, I understand why Jack-n-Jill fell down the hill! That used to annoy the hell out of me as a kid. Stupid nursery rhymes. How, the heck, did Jack break his crown falling down? And where were their parents?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 18, 2017 / 10:04 pm

      I was never much of a fan of fairy tales either. Sci-Fi, on the hand….


    • Fandango July 19, 2017 / 7:37 am

      Thanks for reading and for posting the link to your post. I enjoyed it.


    • Fandango July 19, 2017 / 8:07 am

      Good for you. I try not to avoid stairs precisely to make sure that I maintain at least some reasonable level of stamina. Thanks for the link. Good post.


  9. jacquelineobyikocha July 24, 2017 / 8:19 am

    Reading this I could visualize my father in law and my boys who used to put the poor man to task, but he loved it πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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