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Portrait of Two Rooms

The only light in the room was spilling in through the open door, the flickering bulb in the hallway. It made the glass bottles on the table glitter, penetrating the semidarkness.

The couch was the kind of brown that no one cared about. They saw the couch without seeing the color. It was cushy, inviting, and occupied by at least three sleeping forms, tangled up in each other like a litter of kittens.

The room, a combined living room and kitchen, was longer than it was wide and had an opening at far end to the right, leading into the rest of the apartment. On the far wall was the refrigerator, the sink, the stove, parallel to the faux-ceramic counter that had three chairs lined up in front of it, one that had tipped over.

The sink dripped, a steady noise, lulling. There were several plastic glasses and a paring knife inside of it. The refrigerator was unadorned but for some plain black magnets with nothing attached to them, and a dark blue stain near the chrome handle.

On the floor by the coffee table was an Ouija board, the marker pointing to “farewell”. Wax from the cream candles that were sprinkled liberally about the room had melted into the carpet.

One of the sleeping people awoke slightly and pushed an arm out of the way. They rubbed their eyes, ran a hand through their hair. In the corner of the room by the door something caught their eye – a figure like a pile of ashes slipping away into the light. They fell asleep again.

In the apartment next door, he was waiting, crucifix in hand, the sharp lines of his face illuminated dimly by the light of the candle on the circular table in the center of the room. A shadow like a pile of ashes slid under the door and expanded, blown by a wind that did not exist.

He whispered a few choice words and the ash hissed, flew down his throat through his parted lips. He gurgled. The candle went out, purely by chance, and he choked to death in the darkness as the crucifix melted into black wax.





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