The Incomplete Stair

Many people think that Heliopoli is finished, that all its structures are complete, that nothing in it is not perfect. This is not necessarily the case.

On the west side of Heliopoli stands an unfinished staircase. Hundreds of feet in height, it shoots straight into the sky, unattached to any building and braced by little support. It is concrete, straight and true, and its steps and risers are unmarred and unbroken. Its underside is crumbling, however, exposing rebar and chunks of dusty blocks. It has no railing.

Heliopoli_Full_EX32There is no clue to what it was intended to attach itself, where people were supposed to go once ascending it, what journey’s end it was to deliver its travelers. The topmost step is a little longer than the rest, as if a landing.

Climbing the staircase now, if one is brave enough to weather the winds, one can enjoy a fantastic view of the entire city and embrace the blue dome of the sky. One experiences the uncanny feeling that there is one more step to take.

Perhaps it is finished after all. Perhaps it is meant to be incomplete, or appear so. Perhaps it does deliver travelers to a journey’s end, of a sort, since all good stories, once finished, let the reader spin out the rest of the tale in his or her imagination, larger, always, than what is on the page.

This structure could be described more accurately as the infinite stair. It has all the incompleteness of a shooting star, or a song that ends in a minor chord.


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