I should have known better than to wear the heels that make me four inches taller on the day after the first hard frost.

6:00 a.m.

Walking to work because the buses don't run that early.

The street is black, the air is so cold it burns. The dead grass between the sidewalk and the road sparkles like subdued and earthbound fireworks.

I'm newly in love, do you understand, I don't see anything, I don't know anything. I'm dressed to kill- short skirt, a sweater that's slightly clingy and v-necked enough to be tantalizing , and, of course, the fuck me shoes- for a man who only sees me from the waist up, from the other side of a counter. I'm a fool.

Overnight the puddles have turned to skating rinks. My hands are jammed in my pockets, my head is tucked down against the wind, which has come screaming down from Hudson Bay with the fury of a woman scorned.

In so many ways, I'm a fool.

I don't even see it coming. One second I am vertical and oblivious to anything but my own self-absorbed thoughts; the next I am horizontal on the pavement, face down and tangled in my scarf and hair.

The pain hits my ribs first, and then the palms of my hands. Disoriented by the fall, I barely notice the blood on the black ice.

More drops spill from my nose, and then I feel it start to sheet down the back of my throat, and now, hours later, I can still taste it, a little bit of copper, a little bit of salt, a little bit of something undefinable.

I get to my feet, precariously. My balance is ruined. There's no one around, so at least I'm spared some embarassment, but in my indignity I feel even more alienated. Having fumbled a tissue out of my purse, I start walking again, cautiously, like an old woman, but the rest of the trip is uneventful.

All day long I feel delicate, and imagine that if anyone touches me, I will start to bleed.