Issue 19 November 2014
My hand shakes as I press the cigarette against my lips and inhale. The nicotine seeps into my lungs, my blood, my brain, smoking out the reverberations of a nightmare. My doctor calls it PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, A.K.A. hell. I sigh, and gray swirls stream out of my mouth and dissolve into nothing.
From the edge of the balcony, the darkness saturates the city like a stain until it seems the sun will never touch the surface again. The squeak of a shopping cart brings my attention to the homeless woman down the street. She settles into her usual crevice in the alley with the patience of someone who has nothing to do and nowhere to go. I stole a look at her face a few weeks ago, startled by the faraway look in her eyes like she no longer cared whether people tossed her coins or looks of disgust.