Not Enough Had Changed

The ache rode beneath his skin, a thief of warmth and comfort, leaving him unsettled, jittery, perpetually chilled. Tension in the knuckles — his hands shook, now, when he had them out. Rather than betray that age or nerves had changed him, he kept them shoved in his pockets, whether or not he wore gloves.

The pain of it was only a sharp stab behind the eyes if he crawled too far out of the bottle.

Instead of being held by those once-deft hands, the cigarette hung at his lips as he glared out over the city. He exhaled bluegrey; it mingled with the fog of his breath, and hung in the air beneath the featureless dome that seemed to spread over the sky, hiding the heavens from the earth, and vice versa.

All at once too dim to see anything, too bright to be anything but painful.

Too-blue eyes fluttered shut, and he took a step forward, shining black shoes on poured concrete and rebar, floors and floors above the sidewalks, wind tousling his black hair. One more step forward would be his last. He didn’t look down; he was still afraid of heights.

The scent of smoke in his nostrils — the taste of tobacco and clove on his tongue.

Too many things had changed.

Not enough had changed.

The phone in his pocket hadn’t rung in months; he figured the number was lost, she was lost, everything was lost.

He kept it on, kept it charged, anyway.

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