There she stands peeking from behind the tree, her slender arm parting the hedge where it has thinned. It is a warm, breezy afternoon.
She watches the tall man crossing the street, walking away from her. Unaware of her vigil, he has a lazy swagger, the mark of a man retreating from a private, satisfying frenzy. A bead of sweat rolls down and rests in the cleft of her upper lip. She shifts weight on her feet. She is ready.
She draws her breath in deep, deep, and holds it.
As if in response, the wind hesitates. There is an abrupt, fierce brightening as the sun slips out between the clouds. Everything grows still and silent, with the noon shadows darkening. Her heart thuds hard. She is holding her breath now, eyes intent on the figure across the street.
He stops and coughs loudly, raising a hand to his chest. He is puzzled and looks around towards her house. But he cannot see beyond the murk of the wood's edge.
She continues her hold on her breath, watching, waiting.
It has been a beautiful courtship, her first. His tutelage began sober and disinterested, intent on a proper education for her. But youthful beauty and a juvenile infatuation have worn his defenses down. The privacy in the large quiet mansion has been so tempting today.
Her eyes do not waver. The man gasps, his eyes wide, his whole being desperate for air. He struggles with a heart beginning to collapse. She is unmoved but for her terrible will.
She had not known what to expect, but it had not been pleasurable. Yet she had smiled up at him in innocence and love and pain, a little dismayed by his rough and unfeeling needs. When she looked into his eyes, her heart grew cold. Unknown to himself, his eyes had shown an animal sating itself. That was when she knew. She had lain there under him, as her world swirled inside.
Before he left, she had held him with a long, lingering kiss, while he professed ineffectual, adult loyalties to her.
The man is now whooping loudly, sucking at the air. He's kneeling on the pavement, helpless. His head jerks urgently, and his hands claw at his throat. She has grown still as a statue. Her eyes remain on the figure now struggling with itself and dying.
When he had entered her, for a few precious moments, she had felt vulnerable. She had felt the deep wonder of being a woman. She had felt lost, unwilling to be found again.
The figure is now still, prostrate on the pavement, frozen in the grotesque dance of death.
She straightens, wiping her tears, her long sigh releasing the breath the world has held. She has recalled her breath of love to herself, the one she gave him when she had kissed him. Now her breath is heavy as she remembers the warning she has ignored:
'Find your kind.'