the origin of clouds (a novel)#16

            The house was empty. Everywhere Lincoln looked, there were places where things were missing. Abstract patches like absent pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, stamped into beige, living room carpet from the weight of furniture never moved. Except for a few items which appeared to have shrunk to the delicate provisions of a dollhouse—a couch, an end table, a lamp. Vacant walls the color of flat, eggshell white, thin enough to be peeled away with the swipe of a fingernail, directed the eyes to every odd corner of architecture. A short, high-pitched staircase that led to the second floor (an attic renovated into a loft by a previous owner) before had seemed to reach up into the ceiling with ease. Without the framed family pictures that Susan had so carefully hung, spaced enough between for each to resemble fine art on a gallery wall, the staircase seemed to rot with the vines of ivy painted on to look as though they had grown out of the base of the dark, wooden banister and scaled over a grand archway. In its bareness, it was the halting brutality of a shadowy box cut out of limitation. A threatening reminder that he (just as someone had before) had to apprehend as a violation—the deception of that fixed interior resolving every square inch of space into a possible occurrence in his life. His worth reduced to what he had been able to make out of four walls and a roof over his head.

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