All that shifts in the night is silence and smoke. ‘I want to show you something,’ she says. Placing my hand in hers, she lays them on the counter, placid. The smoke coils, dancing between us. Countless molecules shimmer, cavort, and graze upon their fabric. The air warms, its crisp brace shredded in a still kinetic bath. She raises her hand and one hundred trillion atoms are suddenly meagre, they burst and multiply, flitter and merge, shouting joyously across an indefinable space. ‘Can you see it,’ she asks. I tell her, I can feel it. Suddenly everything is different.
I like watching her on winter nights, matching her cigarettes with the frost in my breath, undone by the thick grey ribbons that spool from her lips and wrap themselves about the air. All the machines read three degrees. A record breaks somewhere. ‘There is always worse,’ she says, voice still clouding between puffs, ‘but we have each other.’ I breathe into the woollen netting of my scarf and try to catch some warmth. Wood smoke rises in the distance, wisps over suburban hills, and I wonder what it feels like to watch a thing burn itself to death.