It was a dry cold, a mean cold. November flew in on a broom and bared her teeth. Cigarette butts in the alley, the same color as the leaves, and a boy was down there, sleeping under his field jacket, his head resting on cardboard. A drunk or another castaway, she couldn’t say. She was 42-years-old and had seen her share of both. She even loved them when they allowed, but they rarely did. They knew they would disappoint.
Morning seeped through the clouds, like cream funneling through cheesecloth. She stood on her balcony, coffee cup in hand. She wore her bathrobe and fuzzy Garfield slippers, and she shivered. But it was real, no mask, no artifice. This was her. Cold, but alive, sniffing the air like a deer. Baggage under the eyes, a firestorm of tumbled hair, still smelling of sleep. Alive-time before she dressed up for the world. She stared at the passed-out boy, stared at the wall across the alley. Lego windows set in brick, perfect squares of department store curtains, the fluid shapes behind them, 60-watt light illuminating an out-of-focus movie-of-the-week. Or movie-of-the-day. It was always the same cast, the same predictable story, and everyone was an extra in the story of their own lives. Fuck it.
She saw the other boy. Seventeen, maybe younger. And he was different. He was… beautiful. Was that the right word? Luminous. Yes.
Oh, David, is that you? Her coffee cup tumbled to the pavement and she did not feel it pass from her fingers.