by nightlight (400)

she’s watchful of the night sky, waiting for it to arrive before she slips out under a cloak of her own making. outside, the city hums, content with the work from the rest of the day, and people are few and far between.

tonight she’s tempted to take a glass to the roof, fill it with an undetermined beverage and drink to the stars – not that she sees many on the average night. the sky is too fogged over, the city too smoggy with people who need to drive everywhere even at 2am. instead, she fills a thermos and balances it in her palm as she trails the staircases, disables the alarm that separates her from the night.

this time she’s on her own as she settles on the ground, smooth and cool despite the warmth in the air. she can tell there’s no rain on the horizon, and out of habit goes to check the key to the door is firmly hooked through her necklace. it’s one she always wears, never answers the questions about it and hides in a panel in the kitchen as if someone will find it by chance.

when winter comes, she stays below the roof, builds a fire and lets it die down while she watches it snow. sometimes she sets up a digital camera on the windowsill, trained on her backyard, and leaves it running all night, leaves it to run out of battery power and then curse herself because now she needs to buy new batteries; hooks it up to the computer to string together weeks’ worth of snowy footage.

in the morning she rises with the sun, eyes stinging and gritty from lack of sleep; paints over the shadows with concealer and calls it a day. she drinks bitter espresso and stares out the window, plays an old game with herself until her phone rings an alarm and it’s time to leave.

she slips out, wanders off to work as if in a trance. the cafe is already busy with people looking for pre-work breakfasts and coffees, and she settles in behind the coffee machine, works slowly through the orders so she can observe better. the city streets are thrumming now, a steady pressure point of noise building in her temples and she’s tempted to go for earplugs, drown out the noise.

midday: the noise hits a crescendo, and fades.

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