Author's Note: Something I dreamed last night. Can you see why I was freaked out and paranoid when I woke up? Nothing like a dose of symbolic "early death" omens to freak you out right before your first day of Final Exams.

It would make a good scene somewhere though, wouldn't it?

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There are two children at a dingy bust stop, the smoky glass with its faded traces of monochromatic gang symbols and spray-painted cuss words a dreary backdrop. One child, four years old, stands on the rotting wooden bench, holes in his t-shirt and the stub of a crumpled cigarette held between two grubby fingers. The lit end makes a ring of glowing orange ash with a spark in the middle of it like a tiny angry eye. He has been holding a cigarette ever since his fingers were coordinated enough to snap a flame out of a lighter. The other child, presumably his sister, stands hollow-eyed on the concrete by the other end of the bench. Lank curtains of tattered hair, more grey than blonde, frame the thin face that can't have seen more than eight winters, but has found every one of them to be colder and wetter than hell. The only warmth on those bitter nights was the rolled paper-and-leaf sticks with their soft ashy ends like crushed stars that were passed back and forth between her and her brother. For a moment there seems to be another—an overweight, scraggle-toothed mother with oozing meth sores on her face and wiry tangles of hair, laughing as though she has danced with the devil and cheated the world at the same time. But then the image has faded away, and it's just two children waiting under the dirty Plexiglas of a broken bus station.