The half-finished upstairs nonetheless served as family living space, absent finishing details like a railing between hall and adjoining staircase. Temporary stair treads provided upward mobility sufficient to access the second level, although the lack of decorative risers left open space displaying the backside of covering drywall underneath.
Upstairs, a tornadic three-year-old busied as usual although somewhat in check, occupying time through interaction with the myriad of toys in one bedroom, mind creating a world in which toys existed as full-scale human and machine, a microcosm of perceived reality displayed after it filtered through young and imaginative eyes.
Set in motion for unknown reason, be it bathroom urge, hunger needing satiation, or a wish to join family, the child scurried from the bedroom and along the unguarded walkway.
Whether fortuitous or intentional in timing, in the lower hall into which the staircase emptied, a pyjama-wearing thirty-year-old mother of two walked along, oblivious to her young child above, attention diverted to another task.
With only the shout for warning and devoid of fear, the child leapt from the unprotected upper hallway, intent on a free-fall to downstairs, expecting to alight in the gentle catch of mothering arms. Startled but unable to react in any other way short of attempting to make the plan work, arms rose even as the momentum-enhanced weight of the child body-slammed her and knocked both to the floor.
The force of the strike sent the child flying further, where face struck a baseboard corner at the entry to the living room. Father and older sister rushed toward the commotion and detangled the fallen. Unhurt but for bruises, the dazed mother took to her unsteady feet, attention not on herself but her wounded leaper.
Blood effused from a nasty cut too near one eye. Fear of its loss sent the father on a hurried mission to the emergency room, the urgency precluding time for the mother to change and accompany them.
Luck sided with the child. The cutting baseboard missed eye, but it required several sutures to ligate the mid-eyebrow slice still absent hair across a half-century.