The red house

Machiko was looking a little bit older than last time I met her. She was not hiding her white hair, that was forming visible strands on her black ponytail, and her movements were not as fluid as a few years ago. “Follow me. It’s on the last floor.” I admire the stairs, and her butt, embedded in her sempiternal jeans, while going up. “Who else is living here?”. She looks back, as if she just remembered I was following her. “Do you remember Seb, the french guy?” I nod. “He told me about this place, when I arrived. I need to say I was looking for something less…ostentatious, but the spot captivated me. You will see when we reach it.”

The first floor gives me an idea of the building plan, although I’m not able still to assert it has euclidean geometry, and I’m afraid to ask. The landing is square. The floor is a checkerboard of light red and creamy white tiles. It looks wasted, but at the same time, comfy. To my left, there is a big, green door, with a non-characteristic doorknob of brass. In front of me, there is a gorgeous stained glass window, of the same size than the door. Through it, I see nothing. To my right, the stairs give it another turn. “So, Seb stays here when he comes.” Machico continues. “The other neighbours, you may have met also, but I’m not sure. Here, you’re never sure, right? ” She smiles me her decorative smile. “You will meet them if you didn’t, at one point, I hope.” She changes her face, like just remembering something nasty that has happened before. Now I see a serious girl. The one of the barrister’s office. “Let’s continue up.”

The second floor is a mirrored version of the first one. The door, the stained glass, and the turn to the left. The floor is a little different, with the checkerboard created by light blue and creamy white tiles. I look up. I can count 3 more floors, so we can not be so far from her place. “I don’t know why here nobody’s using elevators. ” We keep climbing.” It may be related with the nature of the city, I feel like mechanical objects don’t work as expected.” “What do you mean?” I ask. “I had a watch.” She hesitates. We cross the third floor without stopping a second. I have, of course, time to check that the tiles are here green and white. ” The first week was working fine. I brought it from Switzerland, you know. The second week it started to be slow. One day one of my clients arrived when I was still having lunch. I was unprepared and I appeared as a very unprofessional person. Thing that I hate. So I decided to remove it. ” We are now reaching the fourth landing. It has grey and white tiles. She stops in front of the door, and withdraws a key from her pocket. ” Last time I checked, the clock hands were going backwards.”

I look up. The stairs continue a little bit more, but by the dirt after the third step, it seems like they are not used. The stairwell is crowned by a very big skylight, around 20 meters above. One of these with windows that you can open. The windows are unfortunately yellow, or very dirty. But maybe we can go to the top, to have a look around. I will propose it to her later. The door is open.

“Welcome to my new offices.” Again she smiles. “Would you like something to drink, to accompany during the visit? I have chinese tea, and some cold drinks.” She does a small bow. I laugh, maybe more loudly than needed, since she doesn’t seem to find it funny. Again I have her serious mask. “The drinks are here. But come to the terrace.” I follow her straight through the flat, paying little attention to the room, but I manage to distinguish a coach, a coffee table, the door to the kitchen, the door to the bathroom, and some big cushions that I guess can be used as auxiliary chairs. “This is why I agreed on keeping this place”.

“I understand” is the only thing I manage to mumble “I could have done the same.” I stand looking at the landscape. So at the end, the building was a indeed little non-euclidean. Under us, the city extends all its glory. You can see, right there, the Yellow river, like how you could see it from an airship, around 100 meters above. Ships are lazily floating over. I count 5, like toys from this distance. There. Somebody is fishing something, and when I fix my eyes on the issue, my point of view gets closer. In a second, I’m over the deck, but of course I’m not. So it’s some kind of salmon. I relax, and I come back to the terrace. A little bit further, I see the towers of the Spice Market. Again I fix my look, and again I get the magic zoom. Fantastic! I can smell the cinnamon, the pepper, and some other herbs that I can’t identify… and then I’m again at her side. The Elephant park, the beach, the mountains. The moon. Everything is here, and it is not. God, this is better than the TV.



4 thoughts on “The red house

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