Through the summer Mia had watched the flower girl. Whoever her protector was, it was a poor creature for treating his people this way. During the day and into the night, she stood under the eve of Mia’s building, trading stolen leaves for food or a credit.
She had to belong to someone.
Mia watched her come and go from the barred window, amazed that no one had assaulted her, that no one had stolen her from her protector. She concluded that her protector must be powerful and negligent. Perhaps he had set her here to provoke his enemies, to lure them with bait into a war.
Sometimes the girl would lean against the wall, obviously exhausted. At those times, Mia would press her palms and cheek against the brick and listen for the thrum of her heartbeat through the concrete.
The way she felt embarrassed her. This delicate, slender being belonged to someone, and it was wrong to follow the property of another, even with your eyes. She decided to forget the flower girl, passing her on the street without looking. She managed to keep this up for weeks, but the girl kept creeping into her thoughts.
Feeding wasn’t a pleasure unless she imagined the flower girls shoulder in her fingers, her cheek resting on her collarbone, tiny hot breath, beating heart on still breast.
( Collapse )