She landed utterly alone in the city. Her boyfriend had vanished, leaving not a stick of furniture behind him, and two month’s backrent owed to his landlord. She was too proud to call her parents — words had been exchanged — and she didn’t have any money for a return ticket.
Well, she was tough as nails, anyway. She’d survive, somehow or other. It wasn’t exactly pleasant on the streets, but she didn’t starve, either, and only had to stab one other drifter before the word got around. Then she walked fearlessly through the barrel canyons, the light from the tire-fires making rainbows out of the oil in her hair.
There were trysts under overpasses. Some were tender — she made a mad college boy who had overstuffed his brain with Proust and Pound — and some were brutal and anonymous. She kept herself clean, though. She was foul and filthy, but she wasn’t stupid. So she stayed clean.
Walking along the river at dawn — sometimes you could swipe something from the delivery trucks that rumbled between restaurants — she saw something glittering in the muck and used condoms. A year and a half of homelessness had narrowed her sense of beauty to a magpie joy in shiny things.