Chapter no 174 – The Key‌

All the Light We Cannot See

She sits in her lab touching the Dosinia shells one after another in their tray. Memories strobe past: the feel of her father’s trouser leg as she’d cling to it. Sand fleas skittering around her knees. Captain Nemo’s submarine vibrating with his woeful dirge as it floated through the black.

She shakes the little house, though she knows it will not give itself away.

He went back for it. Carried it out. Died with it. What sort of a boy was he? She remembers how he sat and paged through that book of Etienne’s.

Birds, he said. Bird after bird after bird.

She sees herself walk out of the smoking city, trailing a white pillowcase. Once she is out of his sight, he turns and lets himself back through Harold Bazin’s gate. The rampart a huge crumbling bulwark above him. The sea settling on the far side of the grate. She sees him solve the puzzle of the little house. Maybe he drops the diamond into the pool among the thousands of snails. Then he closes the puzzle box and locks the gate and trots away.

Or he puts the stone back into the house. Or slips it into his pocket.

From her memory, Dr. Geffard whispers: That something so small could be so beautiful. Worth so much. Only the strongest people can turn away from feelings like that.

She twists the chimney ninety degrees. It turns as smoothly as if her father just built it. When she tries to slide off the first of the three wooden roof panels, she finds it stuck. But with the end of a pen, she manages to lever off the panels one two three.

Something drops into her palm. An iron key.

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