It was nearly spring. A few months had passed since Winter had pushed its way into the city, taking any semblance of warm with it. Now, though, the slow thaw was beginning... soon Chicago would be green and vibrant and bursting. Even though the days were getting warmer, the night still carried that same cool chill. Maggie Bradley rocked on her heels and shoved her hands further into her pockets. These El platforms are so damn cold, she thought as she checked her phone. 10:55 p.m. She was waiting for a southbound train, one that would take her to Jackson for a transfer to the Blue Line. Finally, one showed up and she hurried inside, holding her bag close and making sure she still had her keys, phone, wallet, and bottle of wine.

She sat down and stared out the window. I can't believe I'm doing this. It was a Thursday night--she had Friday off--and she was headed to Irving Park for a party. Maggie wasn't one to frequent large gatherings, but she was getting to the point where she didn't care, where she just needed to get the fuck out of Rogers Park. Lately life had been stressful; work was ridiculous and there was a slight bit of family drama and she and Peter really hadn't spoken in three days, due to said family drama. (Sometimes she wished she could go back in time, follow a different path.) Anyway, what could she say about Peter? They had been together for three or four years and she always had thought they would be married by then--she wasn't the only one--but here she was, twenty-four and always wondering. He told her he was saving for a house, that a house and a stable foundation were more important than the trappings.

It upset her more than she was willing to admit, but she loved him. She loved him and she wasn't quite sure what to do without him, even when they weren't speaking.

Currently, the entire situation was just making her feel like shit. She'd been sitting at her desk, trying to work through a mountain of a project, when she got a text from Morgan Greene, one of her long-time friends in the city (they originally met in college). Henry McKenzie is having a get together and you should be my date. Maggie considered her current situation and texted back, Okay, when and where? She left work and grabbed some Thai and picked up a bottle of wine for the party. Henry, who lived in Irving Park, was a law student at Northwestern and a friend of hers and Morgan. It was BYOB and Maggie knew a bottle of wine would be more that sufficient to enjoy her night. (There was always a little bit of sharing, anyway.)

She checked her phone and found nothing. Nothing from Peter, more specifically... though maybe it was a late night in the studio, or maybe he was out drinking with his friends. She had no idea and as she sat there on the train, she felt mostly indifferent. This was more of the same old shit, the same old shit that had been happening over the last six months even though it had been an absolute dream beforehand; even though previously, she was the happiest she had ever been. She didn't know what to think, anyway.

Maggie tried to shake it off as she got off the El at Jackson and walked across the station. Just let it go. Soon enough it would blow over, and they could go on with their lives. Gazing at the advertisements on the tiled wall across the tracks, she pulled her long red hair into a braid over her right shoulder. (Peter liked Maggie as a blonde; yet one day, she found herself picking up a box of auburn red hair dye and taking it up to the self-checkout. She did it herself and when Peter got home he was more or less indifferent to it. She liked it, though... she felt like she had reclaimed some long-since vanished version of herself. When she was seventeen and the planets had aligned, but... differently.)

The arrival of a Blue Line train pulled Maggie out of her reverie. She hoped the ride to Irving Park would pass quickly--it did--and she wrapped her scarf a little more snugly as she exited the train, stepped onto the train platform... and around her, around the structure, the eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 90 whizzed by. She went downstairs to Irving Park Road and walked east until she reached Kimball, taking a left and then a right on Belle Plaine. Henry's apartment was a couple blocks up, and the entrance to his place was in the alley. She turned down the well-lit line of garages and dumpsters and parked cars, still covered with salt and remnants of winter.