As she ducks and dives around the deadheads on the sidewalk, X leaves them for dust. It’s getting busy, and the rising sun’s making her dress stick to her skin. What she wouldn’t give for a cold shower, but for now, donuts are more important. Scratching her skin slipping between two women too big for their own good, she shakes her head flinging beads of sweat to the ground that sizzle like bacon in the pan. Makes her lick her lips. Makes her belly tingle, and as she sidesteps a group of children holding hands in a line behind a woman wearing clothes in the style of a scout, she clutches that poor, empty belly of hers and whimpers like the dog she growled at. There are so many mysteries and secrets worth exploring in this life, and yet what can be achieved on an empty stomach isn’t worth achieving at all. Slipping through a crowd waiting at a set of traffic lights, she darts into the road like a cat causing a car to slam on its breaks. Grinning to herself as the driver winds down the window before shouting at her, she gets to the other side and spins round to find a red-faced woman with big throbbing veins in her neck. Shaking her fist and mouthing off, she looks so pitiful. For a second X tilts her head to one side feeling sorry for her, then goes ahead and flips her the bird before kicking herself off the broken kerb beneath her feet. Suspended above the ground in thin air, she looks up and sees not a blue sky but the stars that lie beyond. She sees the creamy seas of the Milky Way and waves upon wave of stars crashing down upon so many nameless planets. And she sees God, and God looks just like her, and as her hair shimmers and shines and her dress ripples in slow motion, she doesn’t quite know what it all means, but she knows it’s beautiful, and beauty is the only thing worth living for. In the seconds before the donut store comes into view like the beaming face of a lover, life strikes her as both desperately fragile and yet irreversibly tainted. Beauty’s worth dying for, and yet there’s everything else, and while everything else is meaningless, there’s so much of it you find yourself drowning without even realising. You know it’s a sea of shit, girl. Right? And as those words of his ring in her sunburnt ears, she chooses not to sink but to fly, and fly she does, like a bird free of chains and of the grease of those human stains that would have her be just like them.