every now and then, katansya stutters a little bit. she shudders when she mutters something under her breath about her missing wedding ring, or how her locks of hair are just a little bit too out of control for her to take care of anymore. bearing news like that over your head makes you just like that -- lost and helpless. katansya gave up a long time ago, and the poor girl still roams about!

and here i am, standing at the top of the velvet stairwell. it's all red velvet, or, more accurately a grim wine velvet with light cast on it from who-knows-where. the bronze railings look like they were patterned in an ancient embroidery. the atmosphere ties together in the corner with a sprawly bromeliad plant. the entire place is a little ridiculous, but the thing we should least ignore here is the pool of blood inching away, spreading step by step by step down the flight going downward.

i'm still holding katansya really tightly, i realize. i'd hate to let her just leave like that. i lick off the remaining turbulence on her cerulean shirt dress. it's really ugly, but i don't tell her that. instead, i offer to lead her down. it's funny, really. if you look down from here, the staircase spirals down infinitely. it loops around and around and around and around.

you've clogged the drainage. that's what the man in the tracksuit tells me when i run into him two floors below.

i think that's what he said. i forgot to listen to him too carefully. he touches my shoulder for a second, and i get mad. he doesn't follow me, and nor does he question me about katansya's wound. terrible. i almost wish he probed for answers, but things are better off this way.

oh, look. it's ran. yeah but the caw yeah but the fizzy yeah but is what i hear, but i'm sure those weren't the words he meant to convey. i hand him katansya's unconscious body--just like that. he turns her eyelids and whispers something. the words flow out slowly.

an opening has always remained before me, and its perfect jaggedness corners my despair--right in the middle of it. gray, black, gray, black. it repeats forever, squaring inward. i hold onto my locket very tightly.