This, coupled with the fact that her grandfather was a very famous
artist, secured her regular shows where her paintings sold quickly. Her
grandfather wasn’t just a little famous but a household name whose
work demanded millions and hung in the Met. You could find his paintings reproduced in the poster bin in any college bookstore for undergraduates to frame for their dorm-room walls. Little of her grandfather’s
wealth, however, trickled down to Claire. Her grandfather had had two
wives after Claire’s grandmother, and her father had sold what paintings
he had to fund a series of ill-fated archaeological missions. Because of
these missions, Claire had grown up in a random assortment of countries—Morocco, Israel, Bolivia, Sri Lanka—never knowing where home
was, exactly, and learning to speak with the slight British accent of the
international traveler. So though she sold everything she made, she
barely managed to make enough money to survive on her art in Manhattan, and when her old building went condo, she was forced to find a
She met the Realtor outside a building near Washington Square Park.
She liked the Realtor’s name, Spieglenik, liked how her gray suit matched
her eyes, how she was bent in unlikely ways like a sculpture that had to
work around a huge knot in wood or stone. She liked how she seldom
spoke and, when she did, how each word felt like calligraphy.
They went upstairs, opened the door, turned on the overhead fluorescent lights. The apartment was a characterless white box. High ceilings
and one nice window, but those were the only things remotely special
about it. It was small, about five hundred square feet, with one corner
blocked off for the bathroom. The only other fixtures were a small stove
and a tiny freestanding basin for a sink. It felt more like an art studio
than an apartment, exactly what she was looking for.
“This apartment meets your requirements with one exception. There
is a door on the back wall that leads to a room that is un-in-hab-it-able.”
“What makes it uninhabitable?”
“It would be easier to show you,” said Spieglenik.
The Realtor led Claire to a plain white door on the far wall. When
she opened the door, there was nothing on the other side except a six-foot-square platform. Around the platform there was empty space that
extended, seemingly forever. The empty space was a mauve color.
“What is it?” asked Claire.
“The everything behind everything, around everything. That space.”
“But what is it made of?”