Alone on the rooftop, Stacy struck a match on the sandpaper-cement ledge, lit a Salem, and dropped the match at her feet. Three dozen matchsticks formed a wavy horseshoe around her toes-evidence she had no reason to destroy. Greg would never find them-could never find them-unless he pulled himself up the stairwell and onto the roof by his hands. She crushed a burned match-head with her heel and, with a strained, bitter smile, drew a line across the concrete.
That afternoon, she had fled her office, case files left open on her desk. Greg had barked an order into the phone and had ended the call before she could respond. "Get here," he'd said, as if he'd wanted her with him. Needed her. She'd found him in bed, lying in a damp patch of his own piss. His eyes had fixed on her, silent accusations etched into his face, his expression set hard and stony. She'd rolled up her sleeves, muscled him to the armchair, and held fast to the fury in her chest, not prepared to show any weakness-not one small crack, a bulls-eye for him to strike. She reserved her weaknesses for the roof-the sky, the dim ambient light from Princeton storefronts and university halls. Not for him.
Now, with another used match, she scratched a second black line across the uneven rooftop. She pursed her lips around the end of her cigarette, inhaled, and drew a third line. She continued, her concentration centered on each smoky burn in the back of her mouth and each hard scrape of the match-heads, until she spelled out the words that had swum in her mind since she'd rushed into the bedroom and into the icy path of Greg's stare.
A week later, as she bent with the weight of her suitcase, she threw the words toward him with as much resolve as she could muster. "I'm done," she said, her throat small and tight. One hand already curled around the pack of cigarettes in her pocket. "I'm done."