Continued from Part One…
Only a staircase was waiting for me beyond the Tower’s door. A winding flight stretched beyond perception, reaching towards the heavens above, with dim illumination to guide the way. This place could not exist, I reasoned. This was not what could be beyond the door, this was an illusion. From the outside, this vestibule should be enormous, and yet there was barely room to stretch my arms. All there was – the staircase, my trembling form, and…the door was gone.
I remember her face. Cherubic, a touch of pale rose, the freckles adorning her forehead, the way her eyes seemed to reflect all light in the room, kissing each ray with a hazel-tinted peck. I remember her screaming that I was slipping away, shrieking at the top of her lungs about how I didn’t care, about how we’d lost the feeling and I was unwilling to reach for it again. I remember walking in the park, kissing her balmy face, running my fingers through her auburn locks, and then we were fighting again. I felt the imprint of her delicate hand right here, above the collar, just as sharply as I felt the stinging slap against my cheek. In a blink, by my side, and then gone in an instant. The vanishing of love, the loss taking a bold stride in to take its place. Now, at the foot of the staircase, I screamed as well. There was no way back. Only up the staircase would I find my answers.
Though my mind clawed at its interior, furiously scratching to escape and turn me around, I put my first tentative step on the stairs…and then the other, and again, an ellipse to scale the ellipse. I could not stop, and I could not waver. Each step its own turmoil, the hand grasping at the banister for some purchase, to find balance, and it would not come. A permanent unease would accompany me up the long flight, and I had no one but myself. I wanted her by my side, and for an instant could almost forget that solitude was my sole companion. But I pressed on.
Sometimes a thin window would be present, and from my vantage I could see the skies, still pulsating with the sickly cerise tinge, still a reminder that this world was dead and diseased and rotted, without the mercy of vultures to filch its carrion scraps away into the night. I pressed up, carried away from the antechamber and towards what salvation may lay at the top. I needed to know, to see what could have killed us, to lay my eyes upon our cosmic cutthroat and see what carnage had been inflicted. Another window, another glimpse of the grim landscape, another echoing footfall, and then… I had ascended. And though I knew what would await my eyes, I turned, and there was nothing. No staircase. Nothing except a wall and a bare floor. I was alone, save for this portal to the answers I sought. I closed my eyes, and thought of her gaze, and with a quivering hand, pushed upon it.