She sits at the bus stop, and she waits.
Her suitcase is packed at her feet. No bathing suits or fancy dresses – not like the other times she'd sit on this bench, waiting for a weekend away, an escape, time off in a place that was anywhere but here. This time, she carries only the essentials, his and hers, tucked away and folded like they still belong together. Like they ever did.
Her eyes stay on the road, watching for his familiar frame, hunched against the wind, coat open and flapping behind him. (It has buttons for a reason, she'd tell him, and he'd laugh, pull her close to him and wrap the fabric around both of them.) She watches, and she reaches into her pocket to run her fingers over the edges of the tickets again, the paper that's wrapped around them, reassuring herself they haven't fluttered away in the breeze. She listens for his steps.
Instead, she hears sirens.
She shivers, tugs at her collar, and tucks her suitcase more firmly under the bench with her foot. "Good night to be getting out of town," the man next to her says, and she nods, doesn't reply.
A better night would have been years ago, a lifetime ago. One of those times they went away for the weekend, she should have withdrawn their money, packed up their lives, headed west. Headed anywhere but home again. Back again, she corrects herself. Home was never a word that had applied to this city.
The man beside her lights a cigarette. The bus arrives. Rumbling up out of the darkness, stilling and quieting in front of them, the driver idling the engine, checking his watch, climbing out to stand by the bench and share the smoke-filled quiet. He lights up, and they sit there, the three of them, listening to the sirens in the distance.
Time passes. Seconds stretching into minutes stretching into the moment when the driver pushes up off the bench, climbs the stairs, starts the engine. The man gets up too, gathers his things, turns back in the doorway to the bus. "Getting on?" he asks her, and she touches the tickets in her pockets as if for luck, still watching the street.
Somewhere, gunshots sound.
"I'll catch the next one," she tells him, and he shrugs, climbs aboard. The doors close. Moments pass, and then the bus rumbles off, leaving her alone there, suitcase by her feet, his letter and their tickets clutched in her hand. She reads it again. I've got debts that no honest man could pay. She folds it back around the tickets, tucks them away safely into her pocket.
She sits at the bus stop.