It all started with the boat.

At least, that's her version she feeds to herself, and everyone else. And she will keep on believing it when everyone else stops.

Sometimes she chokes it down okay; sometimes she doesn't, and has to spend a little time falling apart. But everything will be fine at the end because she can mend herself. She has had practice. A heart needs to be broken a few times before it can find its way back together, and sometimes that’s true for people, too.

The sky is gray today, that peculiar, luminous kind of gray, almost bright enough to be purely white, but still retaining some of that warmness of the dark. She feels like a moth inside a paper lantern. It's a very personal color, and on these days she can fold the city up into tiny squares and slip it into her pocket. It's a possession of some sorts, at least.

One, two, neat step over the crack, one, two, and three till the next. Her feet have memorized the city, taking her down the familiar paths, to the familiar places. If she doesn't think about it too closely, she is one of them, those people scurrying everywhere with mock purpose, like cockroaches. They belong to the city, though, she doesn't.

She has tickets (to China) in her pockets and gum (mint) in her mouth. She has luggage (1 bag, medium-sized; she has learned to need few things). She had some doubts, too, but she left those by the road. They won't be lonely for long. Someone is always looking to pick up some spare doubts.

The thing is, she can’t remember what she is trying to prove.

She has a name, too. She can't pronounce it. Too flat and fast and angled. She doesn't try, in any case; she says "Aubrey" instead.

That is the name on the ticket she will hand to the stewardess. She will sit next to a doughy sort of woman and listen to her motherly irritations and reply with polite monosyllables. She will look out the window and sleep.

She dreams of a little girl, taking a hurried last look at a murky shore, before ducking under rough burlap. There are never any dreams about afterwards.

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