“Would you like a cigarette?” I said. She didn't seem like the type, but I thought I would ask. I wanted her to stay around.
“If I smoked a cigarette, my laugh wouldn't be nearly as amusing. You probably wouldn't even chuckle,” she said. “In fact, it would probably sound quite awful.” She imitated an elderly woman, with a deep, hacking, wheezing cough. I chuckled again. “Oh,” she said. “You would laugh at a poor dying woman. You cad.” She gave me a coy smile.
“What can I say. I am just a terrible person.” I took another heavy drag on my cigarette.
“Now, I don't believe that. You don't have the eyes of a terrible person.”
“The eyes?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes. The eyes. I can see how deep they go on you. On a terrible person, the eyes end right as they start. It's like there's a wall between their eyes and their brain. Your eyes lead right in.”
A third drag. This time I blew a smoke ring out into the quad. I watched the smoke slowly lose its shape and dissipate off into the air. It was slow to do so, because of the temperature. It was as if the carcinogens were afraid to be alone in the big, scary world and just wanted to cling to each other.
The girl spoke again. “Walk with me.”
“Where are you going?”
“Anywhere. Does it matter?”
“I guess not.” I put my cigarette out in the snow and levered myself up off the icy bench with my bare hands. The girl started walking. She took long, whimsy strides, practically jumping in between each step. Her hands were dug deep into the pockets of her pea coat, and I worried for a few moments that she would lose her balance and fall in the snow. I walked next to her, taking solid, confident steps, rolling from my heel to my toe. With each movement, new snow was pressed in between my toes. I loved the feeling of it.