“All I remember is the bus, the bus with the silent women, the silent women but in my head they have no eyes and I don’t remember if that’s the way it was in the picture, or if they had their mouths sewn up but it was important that they were on the bus and it was because of what he had chained up in his basement, locked away all for himself,” she chatters, walking through the slush as though it can’t touch her, as though the cold didn’t exist for her.
The street was familiar enough; she paused to look up at the green sign with white letters, narrowing her starry eyes for a moment, reaching up a long-fingered hand to brush black tangles out of her face. “It’s Main,” she says quietly to herself. “It’s always Main,” she notes.
It was Main, and then it was the street with the factory that had been the gate to hell. Then it was the closet, briefly, and God help them but she probably at least woke one of them, but all they would find was her other sneaker, covered in winter slush. “Black knight moves,” she says aloud, to the coats and the one hat box. “Black night moves, but he’s ever so careful,” she murmurs.
Then it was the loft again, and she sighed, shaking her head, looking at her hands. Then it was the hallway, where the strange stains of carpet and wall never did, never could come out. “At least it was after this,” she tells herself, touching the door, frowning. She let herself in, careful to move things just a little, just enough. The open whisky bottle, from the cupboard over the stove to the cupboard next to the refrigerator. The leftover takeout boxes pushed back behind the army men surrounding the carton of milk.
Then she went out the window, “To look for the crows,” she tells herself, going up the fire escape, grasping the roof tiles. “Not here,” she says quietly. “Here, it worked, enough. Well enough. Then where? I don’t know if I have enough rushes,” she says, looking down at her bare feet, seeming slightly bewildered. She can still taste the smoke leftover from burnt filters, and whispers, “Bullet-catcher. But you’d have been anything for him, no matter.”
Then it’s the steps of the church, and she sits down, and looks up at the woman on the plinth, with the unmoving skirts and the shrouded head, and the unseeing eyes. “They still leave you jellybeans,” she says, picking up three of them from the stairs. “But they’ve forgotten your name and now they don’t know why.”
She puts one of them on her tongue, and the burst of strawberries is the remembrance of sunrise, spring, summer, change, a testament to transition. “This is all I remember,” she tells the woman watching over her. “This is all.”
* * *
Depending on when people look at FB, Twitter, and other various places this is cross posted, I’m finding the best time to hit the most readers, so my little bites of fiction aren’t lost in the feeds.