The Fabrication (Part III)

“We’ll skip the stairs,â€? Joe said. “Just point us to the elevator.â€?

“The Chateau does not have lifts,â€? replied the desk clerk.


“Elevators, monsieur.â€?

“Damn it. Where did that bellhop go?â€?

“I apologize, but Henri is easily insulted and will not return.â€?

She imagined the desk clerk cursing bourgeois American tourists the moment they turned away. Reaching into her backpack, she smiled and handed him some heavy coins, assuming they were the most valuable. “That’s no problem,â€? she said, “we can handle this.â€?

Their room at the top of the turret was accessible by one spiral staircase. She looked up. It wound in a circle higher and tighter until it collapsed upon itself, like a shutter lens. Its stone steps were worn smooth in the center of each rise, a shallow basin carved by the boundless footsteps of the strangers that had come before them. She tried to envision their faces and their purpose—as she struggled to reconcile hers.

Joe called down from above, “This isn’t so bad, huh?â€?

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