Broken fortune cookies never tasted as good. She set the pieces aside, lit a cigarette instead: inhale, the quick rush of nicotine, exhale, backtaste like regret. The smoke leaked out between chapped lips, slipped away from her like another metaphor.

Another toss of the tarot cards, the sly twist and shuffle of a fortune teller's hands, and she'd been cast as the Lady of Shadows. She might have protested once, but what was the point? Champagne nights and no lids on her pill bottles, she'd always lived a cliché. What was one more?

You're dying, the doctor said, and she'd laughed at his clean white coat, everything pressed and polished, laughed at a man who'd never lived to begin with. We are all dying, she told him. Way of the world.

Lady of Shadows.

She plucked the paper from the crumbs, unfolded it with clumsy fingers. And one more irony, another bit of glass humor – one never has enough time – and she flipped the cigarette away. It was only a message in a cookie. It was only a cruel joke.

Never. Enough time. Dying.

"Ma'am, can I help you?" the waiter said.

"Sugar," she said, "Nobody can."