I also saw Anya on that trip, though our meeting was unplanned. I was on the subway platform waiting for the train when I spotted a thin girl in torn jeans and a bright green tank-top walking in my direction. Her hair was a bushel of unruliness. As the girl drew nearer I realized it was Anya and called out her name.
Her response was slow, as if my voice had reached her on delay.
Daniel, she said, my name wrapped in gauze.
Then recognition brightened and lifted her voice and turned my name into a coarse cheer—Daniel. Holy fucking shit. Daniel.
Anya breezed into my arms for a hug. I could feel too much of her skeleton.
Anya mumbled words into my ear. Her voice was as whittled as the rest of her.
I was looking over her shoulder and wanted to keep looking there. I was afraid to release her and step back because then I’d have to look at her face. I knew it bore waste and ruin that my mind would latch onto. And play back to me again and again, the portrait of a death-mask that now covered Anya’s real face, her buried one.
Inevitably I stepped back and took in what was not there, what had gone missing.
I didn’t need to follow the track-marks on Anya’s arm to understand the nature of her cave-in.