Because I had the early morning time slot for my presentation at the conference, I got up as soon as it was light on Saturday, showered before any of my roommates were even awake, and went off by myself to find breakfast. I had had only about three hours of sleep, but the cool breeze against my wet hair woke me up as I walked down the streets of the city, which seemed quiet compared to the night before. All the crowds of people, who had been clustered around the doorways of bars and restaurants, drinking and talking and laughing, were gone.
In front of one restaurant, a young man was sweeping the sidewalk with a broom, and pulling out a wooden sign with hand lettering. Farther down the street, an older man was setting up racks of colorful scarves that twisted and glittered in the morning sunshine. Two women were lugging crates of fruit out to the front of a little store, arranging the bright oranges and green apples into tempting displays. In the bright morning sun, the sidewalks were a shifting mosaic of dead leaves, assorted trash, and crumpled advertisements. The smell of coffee and frying began wafting out of open doorways as some places opened for breakfast.
As I stopped for a moment to check my map, I noticed a lone figure coming down the sidewalk toward me. She was a slim young woman, about my daughter's age, I'd say, still wearing her Friday night evening-on-the-town clothes, a tight black skirt and a lowcut silk shirt. Her gorgeous silky black hair blew into her face as she moved along the sidewalk. Her posture, the way she carried herself, with her head hanging down and her shoulders hunched, seemed all wrong for someone so beautiful. As she came hurrying past me, she looked up for a moment, and I caught a glimpse of her face.
She was crying.