“Deal.” She could already feel sleep threatening to encroach, now that she’d allowed the thought to enter her head, but glancing back down at the body quickly drove it away again.

She knelt, then slowly reached down and gently closed the boy’s eyes. “<May you lie light upon the world,>” she intoned softly. Then, with more feeling, ” <And- I’m sorry.>”

For once, Kihri didn’t comment. “Did you get one of the threads?” she asked instead, once Zarah had risen to her feet.

“Ah, no.” She began rooting around in her pockets. “Which pocket-”

“Left breast,” Kihri answered, cutting her off.

“Thank you.” Sure enough, she found the tweezers and ziplock bags inside. She withdrew the tweezers and a single bag, then bent back down and carefully extracted one of the blue strands from the wound and placing it in the bag before sealing it. That bag went back into her pocket, but the tweezers went into their own bag, which she sealed and put in a different pocket so she would remember it later.

“All done?” Kihri asked as she zipped the pockets back up.

She nodded. “Mm. Getting cold, too.”

“Oh, poor thing. Must be so hard, not being able to feel certain things, huh? So tough.”

Zarah rolled her eyes “<Meet you there?>”

Kihri considered it for a second. “Yeah, I think so. Could use the break.” She began to float downwards, passing through the ground. “Stay safe.”

“You too.” Not like it was even possible for her to be in danger, but it was good to say it anyway.

Kihri nodded, then passed entirely from view. Zarah waited a few moments, just to be polite, then began walking.

Shortly, she emerged from underneath the bridge, grimacing as the bitterly cold wind smacked her in the face almost immediately. The night sky was clear and bright above, a deep dark blue with speckles of white here and there, and the warm orange of the cars rumbling over the bridge behind her flickered and strobed through the railings, fighting a futile war against the blue. In the distance, behind the steelworks, the city rose up, dim white lights partitioned into squares and rectangles, and beyond that, the Glasstree Mountains painted a dim silhouette, rising above it all.

It was a strangely comforting sight, and she let herself pause and take it in. After seeing the ugliest parts of the city, of her home, for so long, it was nice to occasionally find the good in it too.

1 thought on “1-5”

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