“Sometimes I feel it coming all the same. Then I go all queer.”

There is something in the light slinking lower to the skyline that knows that you’ve been awake for some time already, and will be for some time yet. The wave of morning hypomania has crashed to the shore, and the pensive complicity in living has settled in nicely, like a cat turning round three times, washing its back and belly, and shut tight its eyes that you might think it has fallen asleep. And all the while it grows darker, and the nicotine gets harsher on the back of my throat, and there’s a restlessness, a wanting of something that feels like hunger or thirst or withdrawal, but is only the backlash against overglazed eyes.

Jazz has always been red, never blue, but this afternoon it is the crimson setting sun, the lassitude of cream warming in the coffee I’ll be warming my hands on soon, replacing the warmth that was never out in the open winter air. It has been a harsh, clean day, the little white bubbles frothing up from hydrogen peroxide on a wound. Let them all pop and dissolve the sanitary smell away, and underneath, the place where skin used to be will be red as a sunset, red and insistent as jazz. Wrap it in gauze that matches the fresh coat of glistening snow, and everything matches deliciously as the day slides away, until the air becomes visible in its black fur cape, and the only contrast is the stinging pricks of the stars.

That is a long way off and the gentle fatigue of knowing is a whisper in my ear —

I could shroud myself in the shadows beneath my desk, switch the lights away, and hide my things. I could leave and throw the blanket over my head at home. No matter to become nothing of consequence in the dark, waiting for the transition to finalize, for things to click into place such that I would emerge into darkness instead of light and until my eyes adjusted, I would be a thing that did not exist, a specter-shell-girl loose in the room, haunting with dizziness and despair.

But all adjusts, even perspective. It isn’t too late, I’m sorry — I meant so late, and my least favorite hour is still readying herself to arrive, donning gloves and frippery to come steal the light away so all is in balance — lamps won’t help you — all is at the same level — too warm to be conscious — let it slip — let me sleep — give it all over to her with her gloves and her many trains and petticoats.

— and it says: _______________________ before stepping heel-toe away so no one can hear the sound.

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