It’s hard but she does it anyway because the alternative is worse. Some days she forgets that she was ever anything different, ever something other than the washed-out wreck she looks like, and those days are harder. Remembering is hardest, remembering when she’s forgotten, remembering and wanting so badly and not letting herself go. She cries. Crying is awful, because it just reinforces how far she’s fallen. She cries, and nothing cries with her, not the stones underfoot, not the grass by the side of the road, not even the rags she has to wear, just an old woman, crying, alone.
Just once, she pleads, just once again, but it’s no good. There’s no one to tell her no, but the alternative is worse. She wanders, and no one knows her, no one cries out when she meets them, no one withers when they meet her eyes. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone – she always was kindly – but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. She saw a movie of a fire once, burning brightly and forever behind the screen, and after that she knew what she was. Safe, like that fire, safe, comforting, and fictional.