New Year’s Traditions

He stood at the top of the building, after the news crew and security hires had left, looking down over the edge, blinking black lashes against the frosting wind. He smoked, narrowing his eyes, and tried to pick her out of the crowds below, before they dissipated. When little was left but confetti and cleaning crews, he exhaled the last of his cigarette, and flung it off the edge, into the void, letting winter carry it away, and looked for her again.

At first, he didn’t see her — but then she seemed to resolve out of shadow and light, occupying a space near a streetlamp and newspaper machine. She stood there, hands shoved in her pockets, pacing and pacing, until finally she turned and looked up to where he was.

After a long time, she lifted her hand and waved, a brief salute — an acknowledgement of more things than he could put to words.

He waved back, and turned to the roof access. He took the stairs three at a time, excitement mounting, but when he burst out onto the street, the chill cut into him.

What cut deeper was her absence.

The disappointment was a bitterer, keener blade than the wind itself.

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