Her grip tightened. The papers, limp in her hands, creased softly, tugging at the corners. Her throat growled and Sidda crumpled the papers in her clammy fist.
She crawled to the kitchenette, where the tea kettle whistled. Her apartment was, for the most part, empty; she'd brought her small things (a kettle, terry sheets, the Lamp She Loved) and three cushions, to sit on. The rest of the dusty furniture had belonged to her mother's friend, her mother's late friend. An iron bed sat against the wall in the middle of the main room; a tiny kitchen sat to the left and a small bathroom with a view had its door in the back corner.
Sidda poured the water into a chipped teacup, and slid to the floor. She blinked, tasted. Blinked, sat still. The steam from the tea made droplets to slide down her nose. The lamp crackled, then went out. Sidda flipped the switch back and forth, but it was dark. She shivered. It was getting dark outside; streams of light faded from the window.
Sidda sighed, placed her cup on the floor beside her, and stood to leave. She wrapped scarves around her neck and slid her fingers into the wool gloves her mother'd sent. A thin cockroach skittered in the corner; even the roaches were cold. Sidda slid her keys off the table into her pocket, and shut the door behind her.
Sidda felt her way down the stairwell. The cold rail of the metal stairs warmed to her touch. She hated the cold; Virginia hadn't ever been this cold. It made her ears ring and her eyes water. She pushed the side door open, slid against the metal door and stepped into the street.
Rounding the corner, Sidda fingered a loose lock of hair. Her hair hung wild around her head, like a lion. She watched the cracked sidewalk as she walked, her eyes turned low and nose burrowed in her scarves.
She was close, now. Pools of water and scum hugged the steps leading down to the tunnel. Faded, once bright graffitti sprayed like wallpaper on the tunnel walls peeled back to reveal dirty cement and hard grime. Sidda placed her feet carefully on each step, pausing before continuing down the short flight.
Light from the street poured into the tunnel. Crouched near the wall, a man sat, twiddling a twig in his dirty fingers, dirty nails. She knew him; Felix had always been there, since she'd moved in. The two had an arrangement: Sidda would leave lines of poems she loved for Felix, and he'd stay silent when she passed through the tunnel. Sidda wasn't one for small talk, or any talk at all.
Sidda stepped daintily over the puddles and scraps, careful not to make a sound (in efforts to avoid disturbing the quiet peace that whispered in the tunnel).
When she emerged from the tunnel, she sighed. She'd held her breath.