She has music in her soul, this one. In her soul and her hands. She has music on her skin the way the storm has the sea on his. She's talking to someone on her phone, but I don't want to listen, and she comes over, not over to me, just over in my direction, just walking. She stands next to the bench and I'm not listening. I'm not listening, but I hear.
She says, "No, it's fine, I'm on my way. I'll grab a bunch of coffees from downstairs before I head up," then, "I am, honestly, so much better. See you soon."
She has a smile in her voice, but her eyes look sad. She's a mirror turned inside out. I don't know her face, but I know her from how she feels like glass.
I say to her, "You're lost," and she looks over at me and says, "What? No, no, I'm not lost. I'm just on my way to work. Thank you though."
I don't want to look at her too much, not at her face, because I think she wouldn't like that even though she has the sort of face people always want to look at, but I want to know she's alright, so I look down at the ground and I ask her, "You OK?"
And I feel her looking at me again so I look up and she shakes her head like she means no, but she says, "Yeah, I'm fine." The smile's still in her voice, like maybe she puts it there all the time because that's what you're supposed to do, but it's all glass.
I say, "Sorry," and she says, "It's not your fault," but I don't mean it like that. I don't mean it's my fault. I mean I'm sorry she isn't alright, no matter whose fault it is. Even if it's her fault. But I don't think it is.
I say, "I know. It's all in the pattern, all in the turning around," and her shoulders kind of drop and she looks happier. No, not as much as happy. Relieved.
She says, "I've seen you here before. Do you live near here?" and I say, "Sort of," because I don't know what to tell her. She looks like she's trying to figure something out. I know she has to leave it behind, she has to let it go, so I say, "It'll get better. Time goes along and you feel it less."
Now she looks like she's going to cry, but she doesn't, and her voice comes out in a rush. She says, "Do you think people get what they deserve?" and I say, "Sometimes, but I think a lot of the time people just go looking for the wrong things. And sometimes they find things they weren't looking for. And sometimes they get lost."
The birds come, the grey ones, and they land on the ground in front of us. She looks at them the way I look at them and she says, "Aren't they beautiful?" She knows more than a lot of people know. She says, "I think I want to come back as a bird, for my next life, but I don't want to remember anything about this one."
I know what she means. There are things I don't want to remember. And things I want to remember, but I can't. The first time, with the lightning, I was out there and I shouldn't have been. It was dark and loud and there was thunder and it was beautiful. The rest of them were all inside, complaining about it like they hadn't run miles through the mud in worse, but I went out. I don't remember what it was like when it hit me. Maybe I'll remember one day, but I haven't yet. Maybe I won't. Maybe you're not meant to remember some things.
I say, "I like the music on your skin," and she looks confused so I point at her wrist. "You've got music on your skin." She says, "Thank you," and she smiles. A small, glass smile. Then one of the birds, the grey birds, comes over to her. It comes right over and it stops in front of her and looks up at her.
And she looks down at it and she says to me, "It always feels like they're bringing you messages when they do that."
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Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...