The hand lies still, stretched flat on the smooth surface, chalky white against the greyish marble, bones and sinews sticking out. A reddish dew of candle-light seeps here and there ; hesitant shadows flicker darkly against skin and stone.

It suddenly draws itself into a thin, hard, clenched fist ; then, just as brusquely, stretches again, twig-like, tentacle-like fingers pushed out, clicking angrily as they fold and unfold themselves in the air.

It writhes in darkness, craving for light, crawling towards the bright, slender flame ; flutters in its warmth, tries to catch the sparks ; clutches the heat.

Step-step-step.

'Did you make this ?'. His voice is hesitant.

She answers nothing. She simply nods, a quick, harsh nod. Copper filings briefly swing to and fro against her temple, having escaped the tight knot at the nape of her neck.

Darkness pools in the holes of her cheeks ; drenches, as black as ink, her paper-like skin ; and her nose, like a blade, pierces through. Her mouth is a line, hastily sketched by an angry drawer.

His large, strong hand trails lightly over metal and stone, harshly cut and dull at times, and at other times smooth and glittering ; caresses lazy curves and rubs against rough surfaces. His eyes, two slits under straight eyebrows, follow the irregular blending of stone, iron and copper, and cannot know what they see ; the shapes she made, harsh and strange, ruthless and fierce, strong and beautiful, out of her own thought.

''Tis beautiful', he says.

'No.'

Her hands are now tightly clasped before her.

'I do think so.'

'But these things are not what I saw. What I thought.'

'What then did you see ?'

Her hand flies up, swift and nervous, sketches shivering, unbalanced shapes out of thin air ; her lips part, and she spits silence, or just lets it dribble, thick, sticky, bitter, down her quivering chin. Her fingers shake.

She shrugs. (As though she tried to throw bones and soul out of her flesh.)

'It does not matter. Nothing at all.'

He steps closer, lets his hand hover over her shoulder, does not touch her. The chisel that once hewed the flesh out of her cheeks now carves deep lines into her forehead, around her mouth.

'I saw nothing, I did nothing. And it does not matter.'

She rises abruptly, tall, thin, tense, and walks away. He follows her, down the dark corridor.

Some way before her, a door opens brusquely, light splashes on the floor, and then briefly disappears, as someone springs outside and swiftly flees away. Too swiftly - she retains only the image a sharp pale face, and a flash of dark hair.

She comes to the door that he left opened, peers inside. A lamp, the like of which she's never seen before, casts thin blue rays ; a candle spills its reddish light in fluttering ripples ; a silver and golden radiance creeps from behind the nearly closed shutters, and darkness cradles the whole room.

She stares. There are strange things, different from hers, yet akin to them. She stands in the doorway, still and silent. Her father comes behind her.

'This is beautiful', she whispers

He half nods, half shakes his head.

'He wouldn't say so.'

(Not finished yet.)

(...Sorry.)