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It's cold in here, Eraserhead

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How many bloody smears on the pavement does it take to change the world?

It's raining, but she's standing out on the balcony anyway. It's always raining. He lurks just inside the door, watching, aware that he's just too far away to reach her in time if she goes over the railing.

He always wonders if he would go over after her.

Her hands are cold, and she crosses her arms, tucking them against her sides. The rain has plastered her hair to her face, covering her eyes and leaving threads of blue in her vision.

The radio is on inside, rattling off a report about a missing girl. The neighborhood listed is nearby. He tries to change the channel, but everything other than the news station is static.

Now, who are you trying to save? Who do you think you're going to help when you can't even help yourself, huh?

You can't help someone if they don't know they need help. Or if they know it but nobody else does, until they become another bloody smear for people to step over.

He thinks that even if it had been him and her, instead of her and the other one, she still would have mourned.

He steps out, shivering as the wind cuts him to the bone in his shorts and t-shirt. He takes her hand and thinks that it probably feels the same as a corpse's would.

She leans forward far enough for him to feel the resistance of gravity when he pulls her back.

She turns and kisses him, unexpectedly.

He'd always hoped that his heart would jump when - if - this moment came. That they would both come alive.

He just feels cold.

He closes his eyes and leans into her anyway. In the instant before they shut, he sees - or thinks he sees - a figure in the corner of his vision, gray and out of focus. He tells himself he doesn't recognize it.

He hadn't ever imagined that ghosts would return to grieve over the living.