Upstairs room

There was a darkness to the upstairs room. A darkness to him. He sat indistinct in a corner of the room where one shadow dissolved into another. The scent of ashes and ancient newspapers clung to the air. But there was something else, too.

The old window, propped open by a spinecracked book and covered in filth and memory, let in more chill than light. A curl of grey smoke slipped from the dark space where his face would be, clawing its way upward against the draft, but pushed toward the back of the flat. Pressed toward forty-year-old wallpaper and cracked knickknacks. Summoned toward that door.

His voice, gravelled and grave, “I wouldn’t open that, if I were you.”

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