Colleen is waiting for a bus, sleek and smiling and satisfied, enjoying the weather. She knows without thinking too much several things: the temperature, the barometric pressure, the predicted weather. She counts the wind as it pushes against her and numbers the leaves as they blow past. The seconds tock against her skin. She draws the traffic against her palm with the nail of her middle finger.

On the bus she sits next to a tall, hunched figure. She counts the seats and the people on the bus and the number of windows before she sits down. When the person next to her reaches forward to pull the cord she grabs hir wrist where it’s exposed between glove and sleeve. It’s covered with scales, and even as she marvels she knows how many there are.

“Hello,” says the person. Hir voice is low and pleasant. When she looks into hir face xie smiles, too wide, sharp yellow lion’s teeth dangerous in the sun.