The Stairwell

It’s very early and very cold, and she’s pulling her leash tight around the landing to the final steps. Suddenly, she stops.

A man is lying there. A few burned out candles by his face.

She growls.

He’s startled and sits up. He’s young, with a scraggly beard and weary eyes, and lights the cigarette he already has pressed in his lips.

“We used to sit here and smoke,” he says. “But now, she’s gone.”

Gone? As in, dead? Or has she left him? I can’t think of what to say.

“Can I get by? My dog has to pee.”

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