Alice leaned her forehead against the glass. As she looked down at the city her lip trembled. From the fortieth floor everything looked miniscule. The people, in various forms of black and grey, hustled from one rectangular mirrored box to another. Skyscrapers cutting through the sky. She was acutely aware that in each building in this city there was another person staring out the window just like her. Isolated. So why did she feel so alone?
It hadn’t always been this way for Alice. Not too long ago, she was among the throngs of people on the street. Free. Everything had changed in a period of weeks and her life no longer resembled what it once had. She had taken to staring at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. A stranger’s reflection. Each day a new wrinkle; a sign of time passed.
A small laugh escaped from her lips as she thought of the girl who had moved to the city ten years prior. She had been so plucky and naïve. There was a sense of ease about her then. So much so that when the wind picked up along 86th street as she walked home after her long shifts at the bar, she often felt like she would be carried along with the stray garbage bags lining the street. If it could gather up enough speed she might be able to catch up with the sun as it creeped into the sky.
She took a deep breath in and closed her eyes as her lungs filled up. Chest expanding. The cool glass radiating through her skull. All she wanted to be was numb. An itch began in her toes and continued climbing its way up her body until it landed on the front of her neck. She scratched voraciously and even if it was only temporary, it felt good to handle something. To make something disappear. She looked down at her hands, spread her fingers wide, and examined the skin. Her knuckles were cracked and dry; little spots of blood peeking through diagonals that had woven themselves into the fabric of her skin. Winter. The sliver of white on her left ring finger screamed at her, like a newborn, announcing its presence into the world. Silence followed by overwhelming rage.
That is what she felt that morning in August. The events of that day on repeat ever since. The vibration of the phone on the nightstand, alerting her unconscious mind to the waking world, her eyes heavy with sleep. She remembers reaching out to silence the phone. Her husband’s. It felt warm in her hand. Everything did. The air heavy with heat. The unfamiliar name on the screen perked up her senses and her breath became lodged in her throat. Unswallowable. The sound of rain filled her ears and then stopped. Her husband would be out of the bathroom soon. He was probably toweling off now. The phone buzzed again. A voicemail. She quickly typed in the five digit code to unlock the phone. 61312: their anniversary. The phone buzzed angrily in response. He had changed it.