We Cannot Afford Such Luxuries

Cedar comes back to the city with no name in the spring. It’s cold and grey and raining, a soft, persistent rain that catches all the brightness of the new growth. She’s been walking for a week and a half and she’s sore tired. Her legs ache like puberty. She pauses for a second on the road down through the suburbs and watches the lights flickering on in the towers of downtown. She hasn’t been through town for fifteen years or more, and the late afternoon is heavy with nostalgia.

The city with no name forgets its dead; no roads lead to the cemetery and no names are carved into the soft white stones that mark the graves. Cedar slips through the brambles and wades through the long grasses of the field, head down against the rain. She comes to a white stone no more or less weathered than the rest and sits down against it. She watches the day fading from the sky and remembers a small house next to the river and a door closing fifteen years behind her.

“Hey,” she says at last. “Let me tell you about where I’ve been. You should have been there, you would have liked it.”