The hostel room was empty when Joanna got back, except for a note on the desk that said:
‘you may not give a shit, but there’s a cabinet in a castle near a town with a giant chessboard in the main square, the castle possibly built on the ground where the spine girl demon’s cottage used to be. Though the castle also seems to be on top of a hill so that might be wrong. Anyway, that’s where I’ve gone. Not that you care. I expect you’ll be gone by the time I get back. Two months and nothing. Just Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Ljubljana, every single day. No wonder you don’t have any friends.
Fuck it, do what you like, I don’t care.’
Joanna read it once and then half of it again, instinctively making defences in her head:
He’s too self-absorbed to have insight
He doesn’t know what I’ve lost
I said sorry for the hill thing
He’s a child
and all the defences were strong enough to ossify a wall around herself and everything she’d done, though she only needed two defences for those 22 other men.
They were sleazy assholes who wanted sex
I didn’t kill them, the Krsnik did.
She put the note back on the desk and picked up the little blade she’d bought in Ljubljana eleven months earlier.
After indulging in a few seconds of wai gau, she washed it in the sink with hot water, dabbed some alcohol onto a cotton bud and sterilised it. I should probably clean it more, she thought, but it’s only me using it, sometimes the child too, no big deal.
The vial of grey vasic was in the same place she’d left it that morning, untouched. She only needed two drops to get her through the rest of the evening, though part of her wondered if there was really any point. The only thing she’d be doing would be sitting on the bed, or maybe lying on the bed, reading a German book, and even when she did move around outside, it didn’t seem to change much.
In fact, she’d gone all the way from Denmark to Italy and remembered pretty much everything.
Was the effect of it wearing off on her?