Turning to face her, I catch sight of the bags of bones watching from the other side of the road. They’re waiting for the lights to change, or could it be for something to come and show them the way? They appear malnourished and stricken by an absence of hope; as if one strong gust of wind is all it will take for them to blow away like a pile of dead leaves. Eyeing us with hunger, they shimmer and shake before the gaze of the dying sun. Noticing something’s caught my eye, Meeko follows my line of sight the way a child scrutinises the sky in search of answers for life.
“Why are they looking at us?” she asks.
“Because they know we’re not like them.”
“What do you mean?”
She knows the answer—always has done.
“They can sense what’s in our hearts and minds. Even if we ourselves are sometimes unsure of what’s there.”
Their features are obscured by the sepia light bouncing off the windows of the store behind them, but I can feel the sneer upon their lips and the muttered curse words being spat out onto the ground beneath their feet.
“Perhaps they were once like us, full of childlike innocence and a desire to be free, but somewhere, somehow, they allowed the outside world to beat them down.”
“Should we feel bad for them?” she asks.
“Perhaps,” I reply, “but they gave up. There’s no way back for them now.”
“Should we fear them?”
“Yes. If we let our guard down, they’ll have us become the same as them, for the one thing they desire above all else is to see those such as us fall.”
“Because we remind them of how they used to be?”
“And what they’ll never have the chance to be again.”
Rolling two cigarettes, I place one in her mouth and the other in my own before lighting both.
“Ooh,” she mutters, “it tastes disgusting.”
“It’ll do you good,” I say.
“It’ll help to bring out what’s left of your sickness.”
“Hmm,” she mumbles before taking a long drag that causes her to cough and splutter.
Sucking on my own, I eye those watching us again wondering what became of the magic that once existed in their hearts. Is there some small kernel of it left without them even knowing, or has it all been smashed to pieces and left to scatter in the stratosphere? I wonder…
Finished with her cigarette, Meeko flicks it into the road where it bounces once then twice before a gust of wind sweeps it away.