Cendre

In the window, a lamp was lit.

It was a small room. From far away the couch might still have been seen, rickety in its metal frame, and lightly cushioned. Two people sat across from each other on it in the low electrical gloom. A television raged next to them; neither paid any mind to it. A wooden coffee table was littered with glasses and bottles.

One, a man, had the ringed eyes of a raccoon. He had been sleeping in the thin hours that slough off as a consolation to the truly exhausted. He looked very alone there, gazing as he did so intently at the other. There was nothing on the walls to draw his eyes away. The space was temporary.

The other, a woman, had a bloodshot visage drenched in the night’s alcohol. She kept saying, “I’ll never be as beautiful as my mother.”

Earlier, as the sun had coasted towards the mountains in the late afternoon, they had stood on the balcony and made attempts at speaking of happy things. It was easy there, with the autumn light falling brightly on his curls and her jet-black mane. The tea had been hot.

Now, though, decrepit, shriveled leaves swirled in the cold air. It felt to the man like an augur. The plants in the garden beds below had long been harvested.

Outside, an abyss darkened, gaping. The hours fell faster and faster.

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