Then she was a foreigner in her own city.
Every corner was a confrontation, remembered orientation contradicting reality. At times, she directed her gaze upwards like a question. Seeking sight of the sky, old myths of gods and monsters falling from above. Did you fall? A jolting dream of anticipation and impact. The tear of a blade through the artery. The press of a hand over the spine, the chill of new concrete closing cold.
She was surprised, fleetingly, to realise how high a city could rise from a foundation she scarcely remembered. A rich city. But she was richer than most on centuries of compound interest, and what was that wealth to her but what she thought once was the only way to open a door. A million billion arbitrary keys mocking the path bricked and sealed.
Flashing, neon provoked memories darting like fish, elusive to the fingers; smoke veiled scent and sight alike, a relief. All the bars smell like a stale brotherhood of centuries. How far she was deceived she did not long to discover.
'I don't want to die,' said someone else once, not her, never.
'There is no reason you should,' said the long dead other.
She had not loved anyone, not this place nor any ghost. She had not the humility or education, abandoning both for an existence in parenthesis before learning that not hating was not synonymous with love.
'I'm so sorry. But it was still good, wasn't it—'
A whisper, never so soft or forgiving. For a moment she rang like a struck bell, clanged and shivering, a voice sounding the toll. A name almost hers to recall.
But of her story, there was very little to tell, she told the wide-eyed child who reached for her hand and touched her.
Then the city gulped, and she was still gone.
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