His girlfriend slept at last, her pale cheek on his rolled-up sweater. It was not raining. He kept his shell on, cuffs tugged around his hands for added protection against the chill. He wanted a coffee! And Timmie's was just 30 feet away. He couldn't leave her. She had(more) just fallen asleep and God knows she needed it.
Her eyelashes like soot against her thin cheeks. Cold eating through the cardboard mattress.
Meanwhile the morning did the traitorous thing it always did: it changed from indifferent dark, the promise of drowsiness and time stopped. And instead the buses started, the traffic picked up. Heels clicked inches from her face, people hurrying into a world where the two punks on the sidewalk played no part. Dirty clothes and faces, audible alarm bells, visible need.
He'd cleared away the needles they'd accumulated through the long night. He would not leave her side even for coffee.
He felt as much solace looking at her sleeping face as a man waking in a marriage bed. He felt as much need to guard her. Coffee could wait, in light of her sleeping face, inches from the dirt and dirty itself.
The rich in their featherbeds might not understand, although they lived his feelings every day. Junkie, useless, rotten-toothed, lost. Cardboard buffer from the pavement, stolen hospital blankets to hide under. They lived his fierce need to protect, to go on with the farce. To guard the dusk those eyelashes cast on her sleeping cheeks. Her stilled mouth that kissed, that spoke of beauty - that gaped open as the stranglehold fix set in, rendering her senseless.
From then to now he did not understand when life had changed and started bleeding. How their teeth turned grey. Their love grey. Their sidewalks grey and everlastingly cold.(less)