The house is dark. It lives in the middle of a teeming city – and it’s a nice neighbourhood. It is set back from the street, which makes it feel like it is an island of tranquillity amid the chaos of the mad rush.

It is night. A piano plays in the darkness; scales, up the scale and down the scale, and up the scale and down the scale, endlessly.

It is a house of women.

In the tower, all alone surrounded by gadgets, lies the visitor. Her body is curled under the sheet, and her hands shield her head – from what it does not know. She has only been there a week and yet the soft, yielding, enveloping mattress carries the imprint of her body from every night she had lain there. How does she breathe, wonders the house, wrapped in all those layers of mattress? Her sleep is sound, however.

On the ground floor, on the ground, lies the woman who helps. Tiny, and enveloped in her shawl, she could be a bolster that’s been tossed off the bed.

In the bedroom sleeps the injured one. Her broken leg is propped up on a cushion, and her sleep is broken and restless from the confinement of one position. The bed around her is piled with clothes and bags, almost as if she too were a parcel waiting to be put away in a cupboard.

And in the living room, at the piano sits Bernada Alba. Hers is the force that holds the house together. She is the spirit who rushes through at unearthly hours only to collapse in sleep for many more hours. Her hair hangs around her face, streaked with grey, as she plays the piano in the dark.

Scales.

Up the scale.
Down the scale.
Up the scale.
Down the scale.

And the house sleeps.

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