The sidewalk is the ghost of pink poppies. Janitorial crews still scrub at broken blooms, but this concrete won’t come clean. I face the ground. At the curb, a shard sparkles near a crumpled paper cup. I wait until the sweepers tap tin pans of street dust into black trash bags. I bend, like a bough-bound cradle, and lift it up.
Two days ago, she was at her desk, analyzing spreadsheets.
*              *              *
“Ready for a break?” I peek in and ask.
To my astonishment, she grabs the stapler from the sill, winds up for the pitch, turns and takes gravity by storm. The office window bursts into pearl-drop petals. Cubicle padding does little to dampen the noise. There’s a rush of warm air. My hair shifts, static drawn from the shoulders.
She climbs the ledge, looks back. “He used to call me his angel,” she says. When she raises her arms, the white shawl she wears unfurls like wings.
I leap forward; fingers entwine a loose thread of cloth, then let go. My eyes absorb her flight.
That evening, candlelight illuminates the shadow of countless bouquets. The vigil is short. Crowds drip into cliques, cliques spill into solitary me. I stare at the sidewalk stain, search for some sign. There’s nothing written there in blood.
*              *              *
Dusk assaults my memories. The shard of glass in my hand refracts the dying light. I perch above her pink-buffed outline, form a fist and squeeze. Scarlet life-drops meld into the imperfect imprint of death.
I look up. The office complex touches the sky. Several stories up, pigeons braid a nest with a torn piece of hem. I stretch out a bloody hand and wait.
I know it’s only a matter of time before all feathers fall.