She walked down the street, oblivious to the world around her. Music blared in her ear and drowned out the sound of passing cars and people. It washed away everything as she mouthed along to the lyrics and shuffled down the street.
It was wet and cold outside, not a good combination for her city, and not many were outside.
She walked a lot like this, out and about, wherever she felt like. It made her mother worried, as sometimes she didn’t get back until late at night when the sun had already set and the street corner dwellers and general thugs had already crawled from their crevices and the good god fearing citizens had cowered beneath their rocks.
But, it was only six PM, not nearly late enough for anything dark or menacing to be about. So, she walked on. She shook her head to the beat of her music and her hair flicked in the wind, occasionally snapping her in the face sharply.
She rounded the corner of a street which she did not know the name of and kept walking. Before she could get very far, however, she noticed a man standing under the unlit streetlamp, watching her. She was too far away to see his face, but he was huge, at least 6”5 and very gangly.
As she approached cautiously, wary of any man who stood and watched her on her walks (just as her mother had taught her to), but as she got closer she saw that he was elderly and looked on her with slight confusion and concern.
“Your shoes are untied.” He smiled kindly and nodded down towards her burgundy tennis shoes.
She smiled back, in the forcibly polite way that you always see when somebody is only being pleasant because they know that is what is expected of them.
She bent down to tie her shoes, stoically and methodically, very much aware of the way the man was studying her carefully, as if trying to figure her out the way you would unravel a word puzzle.
She looked up to thank him but only caught the edge of his duster before it slipped beyond the corner of the street and behind a building, the man was gone.
She walked on, quickly forgetting about the man and her untied shoes. Sometime later, she passed a ledge where the wall had fallen out and the passage to the frigid waters below was clearly visible. She stopped just at the edge, and silently watched the waves lap over each other for a moment. The winds whipped through her hair and cut into her bones.
She vaguely wonder what would have happened if she had tripped.
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