Walking home down Church, she glanced to her left and expected to see her reflection. Owlish eyes, pale skin, lank hair. Instead, there was no window—only a crosshatch of iron bars fronting a damp, closed yard and a stunted palm tree.
Missing her face gave her pause. The palm tree waved its withered fronds her way. Whoever had planted it must have known it would die before it ever hit the ceiling. It would not break free. It would thirst. It would die, and no amount of looking on with pity would save it.
She swallowed, tasted vinegar, and tongued a sour shred of lettuce from her teeth. The limpness of it brought a scowl to her face, and when a man opened the exit door behind the palm tree to leave for work, he thought she was looking at him. Blushing—for what, he didn’t know— he self-consciously combed his fingers through his hair. She turned abruptly to leave. A lost, dried-up frond wobbled in the wind at the base of the gate, like an amputated arm waving goodbye to home.