The sun is setting. The gray-orange haze settles into the evening sky. Your knees press against the concrete barrier. They stiffen, molded, and poured like a picturesque gargoyle. Your hands are at your sides. They are weighted down to the fingers. They are stretched to the tips, like string connected to cinder blocks, tossed into a rushing current.
The smallest of shivers lurches its way from the tip of your toes. It slithers across the edges of your bruised skin. The twisted fingernails of the Wind rush down the curves in your arms. Your hair stands on end.
Your cell phone screen flashes through your thin, denim pocket. The vibration of the alert woke you three hours ago. Its’ desperate buzzing rattled like a steel chain. It twisted its way through your intestines. It shifted, malleable, like molten steel. You skimmed the text, “Dark brown hair. Last seen on November 16, at 11:30pm. Wearing teal shirt and jeans.” Its white letters danced on the feeble, filigree of hope. It encased, and scorched from inside.
You shake your head. Dark strands fall from your cool forehead. Sweat beads, rampant from the charring within. Your high cheekbones are stenciled in black and white. They contrast your pale, milky features. The thin lines of your lips are exposed, like the hollow portraits on the side of a milk carton.
The headlights behind you slow, your smudged features shift across the darkening skyline. It startles them. It’s not uncommon. They see rough fringes, like peeling skin. They always startle easy. It never fazes you. Your unwavering gaze counts only bold blue cars below: four, five, six. They pass by.
You press your palms deep into the hollow of your eyes. Deep, until electric arcs burst yellow across the black. Searing red forces violent flutters. Tears drain the road grit from your lashes.
You jam glacial fingers into deep pockets. Your ripped palms ooze road rash from the gashes. Brown blood seeps through. It stains your light, blue jeans.
You clutch the pebbles, in your pocket, hard against your raging skin. The friction rubs raw circles on the pads of your fingers. The pebble turns, morphing and flowing into your hands like the roaring, river waters of its past.
You inhale. Your lungs fill. Your chest ripples in exhausted waves. You pull back, your elbow pops. You release.
The pebble tumbles across the barrier. It soothes you. You like to imagine that its thundering entrance slows traffic.
You wonder if it would have made a difference. What if someone had slowed traffic for you?
No matter. You are here.