On the stairs, there was a clear, plain silence.
It was a short staircase, fourteen steps in all, covered in lino from which the original pattern had been polished away to the point where it had the look of a faint memory. Eleven steps took you to the turn of the stairs where the cathedral and the sky always hung in the window frame. Three more steps took you on to the landing, about six feet long, with the two bedrooms opening off it. It was in those two bedrooms that the nine of us slept–the parents and the seven children.
‘Don’t move,’ my mother said from the landing. ‘Don’t cross that window.’ I was on the tenth step, she was on the landing. I could have touched her.