I shielded my eyes against the harsh glare of the sun on snow and saw a figure silhouetted against the backdrop of skyscrapers. It was a girl on the edge of the bridge spanning the frozen water. Her hair whipped around her, the wind channeled straight through the buildings to blow harshly out in the open.
I squinted against the glinting snow. Her feet were bare, her toes curled around the sharp corner of the concrete that dropped away. She was dressed in tight black pants and a blue leather jacket that didn't look warm at all, combat boots clutched in her hand. She must have been freezing.
But as I looked at her, she didn't even shiver. Her back was ramrod straight and she held her head high, her expression haughty despite the tears sliding down her cheeks. She didn't even appear to see me.
I was curious and I had time before my lunch break was over. I wrapped my scarf tightly around my face as I turned into the wind and walked to the bridge.
"You okay?" I asked, leaning on the railing and looking up at her.
"Of course not," she said stoically, not even looking at me. "Everything I am was ripped away from me forever."
Okay. I honestly didn't know how to reply to that. "Aren't you cold?" was all I could come up with.
"Are you going to put your shoes on?"
"Any particular reason for you freezing your butt off up there?"
"You wanna tell me what that is?" She clearly did not want to talk, but I ignored her short answers.
"Warmth is too familiar. I wanted to numb the pain." Well, that wasn't cheesy at all.
"And may I ask why you're in so much pain?" She clenched her jaw. "What, break up with your boyfriend?" I guessed, judging by her age and my own experience with 20- something girls.
She whipped her head down to look at me, her eyes flashing. They shone almost gold. She really was young, but her eyes looked so, so old and so, so far away.
"My husband died." I opened my mouth and closed it again, wondering why exactly I was talking to her in the first place.
"I'm sorry," I said softly. "Recently?" She laughed bitterly.
"I suppose you could say that. To me it is, anyway." I felt sorry for her, I really did, but I was completely lost. "It was twenty years ago, today." I opened my mouth and closed it again. Maybe she was as crazy as she looked.
"But- but you're not even thirty!" She smiled and shook her head, her blonde hair flying.
"No, I'm far older than that. But never mind. You ought to be getting back to work."
"Yeah." I turned around, shoved my hands in my pockets and walked a few steps before turning back. "I didn't catch your-" she was gone. I shook my head, smiling slightly. "…name."
I went back and leaned over the railing, looking down at my icy reflection. And I swear, for a second, the leaves swirling around below me danced into a pattern. A pattern of words.
I blinked and it was gone. I smiled again and went on my way, back through the streets and into my warm office building.