We had a code, with the neighbor girl, downstairs. I was playing – loud – some very special music (from the Prokofiev), and she knew she was to join me in the cellar, a few dozen meters below, in the depths of the building. It was never very long, it never took too long. She was quick, direct, efficient. Light off or on, it didn’t matter, she knew the place by heart. Other neighbors had left an old club chair in a dusty corner: I sat in it waiting for him, and I heard the sound of his heels on the stairs. Thirteen steps. I called them “the thirteen steps of Heaven”. Usually you have to go up to go to Heaven, but here you have to go down. She would also pull down my pants, kneel down, and begin her work without saying a word. Moments later it was over. She wiped her mouth, kissed me on mine, and walked up the stairs. On some hot summer days, I would go down to the cellar four or five times, and she never missed an appointment. And then one day, it all ended: we found her dead one morning in the cellar; she had slipped down the stairs with her heels and cracked her skull. The thirteen steps had led her – she – to Heaven. And I have never been there again.
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