On a corner, under a street lamp that ﬂickered toward it’s slow death, a death that would be ignored by the city DPW because no one really cared about that part of town. No one
really gave shit about the street lights, roads, benches, the garbage that moved like waves down alleys and across parks. No one cared, no one looked, no one saw, this is what gave Ariel comfort. Most people would be afraid of this section of the city, fact is, most people were. They went there during the day, went to the markets, went to the low life insurance dealers, went to the rug salesmen, the pharmacy, the grocery with near empty shelves. The ones who lived in this area lived by day. Moved in the grace of sun light. When the sun set, this part of the city ghosted like a picture of a spent boom town in the old west. No one to be seen. Not that there was no one there to be seen, it was simply that most of the people moving in these streets, after sunset, didn’t want to be seen and they knew how to make sure they weren’t. Even if she didn’t see them, Ariel felt them. Sensed them in the shadows. Heard the slow, quiet shufﬂe of their feet.
Moving slowing with the conﬁdence of a lion at a kill. No need to rush. No need to waste energy. The shadows knew the exits, knew the entrances, the escapes, the hopeless dead end alleys that smelled of death, echoed of; please don’t, sobbed with; gimme another chance. The shadows knew who you were, what you wanted, how much it would cost and what your life was worth to them even before they laid eyes on you. Most people would ﬁnd that terrifying. Ariel, as she proved time and time again, was not most people.
“White girl,” a voice slipped easily out of the shadows on the edge of the ﬂickering street lamp and wrapped around Ariel’s ears, “you got legs, baby girl, you gonna use those legs to run?” She laughed to herself, betrayed no emotion to the shadow voice and stood her ground. Not looking in the direction of the words. “Oh, white girl,” the voice continued, some shades of laughter under it, “you are all stoic and statue like. Ok, I like statues.” Again, Ariel didn’t move, didn’t respond. The shadow voice got closer to the edge of the light. “I have been looking at you, white girl statue, for some time now. I am done looking. What more do you have to offer?” The voice broke the edge of the ﬂickering light and Ariel turned, quick, sharp, using the on then off of the dying light to hide her movements. Like moving in a strobe light. In that ﬂash, she stood outside the circle of ﬂickering light and now, the shadow voice, made ﬂesh by stark white light, was on the inside.