The aroma turned out to be a subtle deception. One of those little tricks the senses play on us, where the fleeting first impression is completely dissimilar to the following ones. And it always happened like this whenever she would venture into this room. Every breath, look and heartbeat would repeat itself, identical, choreographed. All of her visits blurred into one.\n\n<<back>>
She almost tripped with an incredibly tall (at least for her) floor lamp, distracted by the sudden glow of a jar filled with thousands of glass marbles. Light pierced through them in messy, defragmented, despairing rainbows. Shards of a broken window into someone else's childhood. Surely not her mother's. If she couldn't stand seeing Nicole play "boys' games", much less would she have played them herself. The jar's lid, dusty as a hundred libraries without readers, gave in softly. She couldn't resist the impulse of pocketing a few. Despite not belonging to anyone anymore, it still felt a little like stealing. The colorful handful of glass rested neatly in her pocket, sheltered from the notion of being forgotten.\n\n<<back>>
Nicole stepped into the attic. Dust. Endless coats of dust. The air had the [[sweet smell of a room that's been closed for too long]]. She closed the door, slowly, trying not to make a sound. She stood still and held her breath for a few terrifying eternities. Noone suspected a thing.\nGoing into the attic wasn't exactly forbidden. Nonetheless, the room inspired incomparable respect and curiosity in her.\nLike [[ancient towers]], [[boxes piled up]]. Like [[mountains]] on the horizon, present since time immemorial, the hermetically sealed [[cupboards]].
When she opened the drawer and reached inside, Nicole's blood froze. For an instant, she was convinced this wasn't merely a sensation but an inescapable, scientific fact: the horror had made her heart stop beating, incapable of pumping those enormous icy pieces that were trying to run through her body. It took her a few seconds to calm down. After a deep breath, she looked again and verified that what she'd held in her hand was, in fact, a gun. Nicole knew that, out of all the objects that existed in this world, possibly the most [[terrifying]] was a firearm.\n\n<<back>>
She chose a box, almost randomly. Fragile pieces of porcelain stood out. So fragile they seemed, it defied belief that they had survived the onslaught of time. But there they were. Golden arabesques on a tea pot and tea cups, and little saucers delicate as frozen jasmine petals. Intact. Carrying the perfume of [[meetings long gone]].\n\n<<back>>
The door wouldn't budge. Hitting it would've been a terrible idea. Nicole made the hard choice of leaving her curiosity unsatisfied. The cupboard also had [[a small drawer]].\n\n<<back>>
Behind this door, a doll's dead eyes judged her. The girl, her skin white as a sheet, had no legs. Instead, from below her hips grew the torso of another, dark-skinned doll. Her four vacant, shocked pupils reigned over this kingdom of darkness and crystal cups, inside the hermetic solitude of the black cupboard.\n\n<<back>>
On the wall, out of her reach, she could see a shelf covered in bottles of all types, shapes and colors. Sapphire, emerald and blood-red bottles. Witnesses of celebrations now rendered unimportant.\n\n<<back>>
In a mouldy corner, a mountain of cassette tapes, crumbling down ever so slowly. Most of them abeled with careless calligraphy. A few still kept their original labels, though their names weren't exactly inviting her to listen (Nicole supposed that whatever it was that mister Clayderman had written in a letter to his mother, clearly should remain between the two of them).\nAfter provoking its [[collapse]], she put aside all the tapes that had piqued her interest. Perhaps she would find an old cassette player that still worked. Regardless of how badly it functioned, as long as it satisfied her curiosity.\n\n<<back>>
She instantly remembered the day she learned the meaning of death. How she'd cried for days on end. And how her heart had sunk when she learned the purpose of weapons like those. She remembered the look on her mother's face, her tears, as she explained those things to her. The only two times she'd seen her cry. She closed the drawer, swearing to herself she'd never open it again. But something remained in her. A weight. A feeling on the back of her throat. A black, metallic horror of an aftertaste.
The Attic
Another box, from which plastic flowers grew, contained an eclectic mix of objects. On a mattress of thread and wool, rested a little ceramic (or was it clay?) instrument with holes. Like a flute, but in the vaguely comfortable shape of a potato. A tiny [[owl]], made of the same material, slept beside the instrument. Towards the bottom of the box, under the wooly rainbow blanket, lay an old knife. Coarse, dressed all in leather and rusting its way to oblivion, like formerly held pride. But whose pride was it?\n\n<<back>>
Gonzalo Salinas
The shelf to the back of the room exhibited a pecculiar collection of owls. Paintings, statuettes, paperweights, postage stamps, and even a stuffed owl so lifelike she almost let out a scream when she noticed it looking back at her. Worn plumage, sharp beak and claws, and even sharper yellow eyes. Pale ceramic owls and brown owls with black spots. And reddish brown owls that looked back at her just as filled with curiosity as Nicole looked at them. A steel bird with a stern expression held a piece of [[parchment]], challenging her to steal it from his inorganic claws.\n\n<<back>>
She unrolled, an old and sad and half-finished family tree. She found her name, as well as her parents', aunts' and uncles', some cousins' and her grandma's. Where her grandfather's name should have been written, however, was a different, totally unfamiliar name.\n\n<<back>>
The black cupboard had two doors. One of them [[hiding behind a lock]], the other one [[slightly open]].\n\n<<back>>