I could walk at a steady pace down the stairs and out the front door and along the street, trying to look as if I knew where I was going, and see how far I could get. Red is so visible.
I could go to Nick’s room, over the garage, as we have done before. I could wonder whether or not he would let me in, give me shelter. Now that the need is real.
I consider these things idly. Each one of them seems the same size as all the others. Not one seems preferable. Fatigue is here, in my body, in my legs and eyes. That is what gets you in the end. Faith is only a word, embroidered.
I look out at the dusk and think about its being winter. The snow falling, gently, effortlessly, covering everything in soft crystal, the mist of moonlight before a rain, blurring the outlines, obliterating colour. Freezing to death is painless, they say, after the first chill. You lie back in the snow like an angel made by children and go to sleep.
Behind me I feel her presence, my ancestress, my double, turning in mid- air under the chandelier, in her costume of stars and feathers, a bird stopped in flight, a woman made into an angel, waiting to be found. By me this time. How could I have believed I was alone in here? There were always two of us. Get it over, she says. I’m tired of this melodrama, I’m tired of keeping silent. There’s no one you can protect, your life has value to no one. I want it finished.
As I’m standing up I hear the black van. I hear it before I see it; blended with the twilight, it appears out of its own sound like a solidification, a clotting of the night. It turns into the driveway, stops. I can just make out the white eye, the two wings. The paint must be phosphorescent. Two men detach themselves from the shape of it, come up the front steps, ring the bell. I hear the bell toll, ding-dong, like the ghost of a cosmetics woman, down in the hall.