“What if stars are actually streetlights and they plotted out a city in the sky?”
The shingles were crisp with frost, but she didn’t seem to mind even though her hair was half-frozen at the ends.
“Then those are some pretty fucked up streets, Lou.”
She wrinkled her nose at me and I grinned.
“You’ve got to try a little, you know.”
I groaned and dropped my head back against the freezing roof. “Fine. Tell me more about your damn starscapes.”
She smiled and nestled closer, her body a bundle of sweaters against my chest. “The people that live up there, they’re blue and orange and red and green. Every color you can imagine. On special occasions, the city gathers together and forms a rainbow. Then they throw all of their tears away and begin anew.”
I ran my fingers through her curls, untangling a day of running. She was still spattered with dirt and flecks of blood. “How come you help these people, Audrey?”
She paused and glanced at me, her eyes shining brown and green and blue in the moonlight. “Which people?”
I gestured towards the sky, enveloping all of the streets she had imagined. “Everyone. The beggars, the gutter kids, the people you find dying in the alleyways. Why do you help them?”
“You were a gutter kid too, you know.” She murmured.
My fingers curled into a fist. “And you’re not?”
Audrey propped herself on her elbows and met my gaze. “Of course I am, Emery. That’s why I help them, because we’re the same deep down. When you’re dying, you’re just a body struggling to survive. We’re only people at the end and it doesn’t matter where we come from”
I bit my lip and growled, “I’m not just some street kid.”
She rolled her eyes. “Alright, so what are you then?”
“My father was a soldier. My mother was beautiful. We had a house within the gates and we aren’t the same, Audrey.”
“You think you’re better than me because your father was a drunk who tortured your mother until she took her own life?” She scoffed and sat up. “If I hadn’t found you and your sister, you’d both be dead.”
I glowered at her. “We would have been fine.”
“If being a human-sized lump of ice counts as fine, sure.” She muttered.
I clenched a fistful of my hair and breathed deeply. The frosty air stung my nose and settled like a dead weight in my chest. “Look, you know I didn’t mean it like that.”
She blinked, shifting her gaze to the cobblestones and snow drifts two stories below. “Save your breath, Emerson. Find me once you stop thinking you’re so much better than everyone else.”
I knew I wouldn’t be able to find her once she hit the streets. “No. Audrey, just wait…” I reached for her sleeve, but she was already swinging over the edge of the roof and skidding down a drainpipe.
She hesitated in the street below. “I’ll be waiting, Emery.”
Then she was gone.