And there she is. Her warm breath ascending to the heavens through winter's chill. Her red dress a rose in a bed of concrete. With her breath above her, and the city below, she waits.

Waits for the one man, the only man, to complete her desperate lie of a life.

Lonely days and lonely nights through fall and winter and spring and summer. Every night, there she is, on the balcony. Her brown eyes glow like embers in sepia.

She inhales.

Nicotine and countless other synonyms for death enter her lungs, jagged from years of attempted suicide. The smoke rises like her breath, weaving an intricate spider web. Her glossy red lipstick rubs off on the paint of her half finished cigarette, now red at both ends. She ashes and takes a drag, the same drag she's taken thousands of times before. Each drag a cut into her skin; each drag a soliloquy of grief.

She paid for the filtered cigarettes with a crisp twenty-dollar bill, earned from sin in a sinful world. The bill would eventually disappear, making its way into nothingness like the pathetic stars in the city sky.

The stars the girl was staring at right now.

She inhales.

The stars that she stared at when she was a child. Lost in life. The stars she fantasized about when everything was possible, and she wasn't just another nondescript resident of nowhere, USA. When the doctor/astronaut/supermodel career choice wasn't just impossible, it was expected. When erratic discord was just a bunch of nonsense words, not a way of life.

She inhales.

Flicking the now useless bit of paper off the rooftop to the city below, she takes out her lighter. At first the tobacco and paper edge of her new cigarette are only singed, she flicks her lighter again and the flames ignite the useless piece of paper.

She inhales.

She inhales happiness, exhales her sorrow. Her sin, her iniquity.

She exhales away her shame. Her responsibility.

The smoke rises through the midnight air, gracefully, yet erratically.

She inhales.