She stands at the edge of a place that is familiar and yet of course it isn’t. The parking garage is tall enough that if she wanted to, it could be over. She stands up there and looks out over what she can see of the city, the greydome sky weighing heavily. Even if he were here, he wouldn’t be out in weather like this; it’s too cold to be comfortable, and the way the ice and snow have begun to turn to slush means the cold is the damp kind, that crawls in and settles about the bones. Wintry wind plays with the crazed mop that is her hair,
(a lock for every place I’ve been)
braid and bead and ribbon flutter,
(a bead for everyone I’ve known)
and she looks down, past all six feet of herself and her boots, and down and down and down, past the multi-floored parking garage’s poured concrete and down to the damp street below, and then she closes her eyes, and feels the way the wind pushes back at her, as though gently reminding her not to lean too much farther over the edge. She turns her head and looks at her wrist, and she watches the second hand slide slowly around the face. She sits down on the damp, frozen ledge, and pulls out a packet of smokes, taps one out, and puts it between her lips. Lighting it, she inhales, exhales, and closes her eyes again. Little rituals.
“Today was a bad one,” she says, to someone in particular who isn’t there. “It’s getting harder to slip. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting further away, or closer. I swore she wouldn’t take you. At least… I think that was me. I’m not sure anymore. First few times, I thought maybe I’d lost my mind, but then I realized I still had the burns. That’s gone now, though. Didn’t hardly scar. I can’t–” Her voice cracks, and she clears her throat, and then drags deep on her cigarette and blows a smoke ring. “I dunno where you are, but I won’t stop looking. I can’t.”