That was better. Now he wouldn’t ruin it any more, but where did that thought come from. Why did he feel that? After all…

Questions big and small were connecting.

“I meant to ask,” the girl said.

No more memories he told himself.

“What is on the other side of the wall?”

Reality clicked into place and his eyes opened. A girl, known for spilling groceries, knelt beside him.

“You……have a terrible taste in dresses,” he concluded.

Out of courtesy, he would have tried to turn his head if his traumatic head injury had not temporarily disabled his neck. She shifted her position, but not to cover up. Instead she put a hand down on the pavement so she could lower her eyes nearer to his level.

“I deserve an answer.”

“He really isn’t dead,” another said.

Interesting The Stranger thought. He had not imagined her as the inquisitive type, but…her breath landed soft and white against his cheek. The Stranger felt everything reconnect. He pulled his legs together and pushed himself up to her level as she moved back.

“It’s freezing.”

At a greater height, he noticed the store clerk who had spoken just moments before, holding the door of his shop open.

“Oh ya,” the store owner said.

The Stranger pulled himself up and pushed both of them inside the now open shop. He took the dollar from his pocket and held it up. The two of them stared at him.

“Get her clothes.”

“But…

He took the shopkeepers hand and put the coin on his palm.

“Consider it a lifetime investment. I’ll be outside.”

That said, he escaped back out onto the deserted street, sat himself down on the curb, and didn’t move. If fact, he felt that he couldn’t. Even stranger, he felt almost cold. So impossible was the feeling that if he were to give it a name he would have said shock.

Yes, shock. For someone to come up to him and ask about the outside at a time when things were starting to resurface was unbelievable.

The door from the clothes shop slammed heavily without its doorstopper. She was back.

“Who asked you to meet me?” he questioned her.

It wasn’t a simple matter to go asking about things beyond the city. Such behavior could get a person killed.

“I’m sorry. When I told my friends that we accidently met back at the store they said maybe it was time to talk.”

“But you’re not sorry now are you. You’re freezing.”

“I didn’t know how to meet. I waited outside your building, but you didn’t see me and you kept walking away. You know it’s not that I wanted it to be about you. I always wanted to know what else there was. You were just convenient, you know.”

So it really was her own darn stupid plan. He let himself look at her. Even in a baggy shirt and sweatpants, she shook with cold. People were always foolish. He stood and slipped off his jacket to put around her.

“I’m leaving.”

“Wait,” she said grabbing his wrist, “Come to my place. You don’t have to answer.”

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