"I always look back," she said. "Everything is in the past. Everything good, anyhow." She was outside, sitting at a gray metal table, ignoring the no smoking sign on the wall behind her. I was standing, leaning against a pillar, watching her smoke, thinking about the past. I had begged her to see me, after she had told me, and after a round of begging and badgering, she finally broke down and agreed. We were along the long side wall of the public library. Through the glass, in the darkened room, I could see shelves full of children's books.
"Not everything," I said. I had to find a wedge, a combination of words and thoughts to separate her from this decision, this conclusion.
"Yes, everything," she said. "What exactly to I have to look forward to? Getting older and dying? Everything I have ever done that was any good has already happened." Her eyes were wide, staring at me hard, imploring me to find the answer. I didn't have anything to offer.
"Do you really feel that way?," I asked.
"Yes," she spat, blowing out a cloud of white smoke. "Every damn thing." She was looking down, staring intently at a patch of sidewalk between her worn Converse high tops. Her hair was short, a melange of green and blue patches.
"Look," she said quickly. "It's not that I'm not sorry. I am. I know you've tried. It's just that all this...stuff isn't for me. I'm not any good at it." She gestured uselessly with one hand, indicating the community college building behind us, and the trees and apartments behind that, and all the empty air on top of us.
"What aren't you good at?," I said.
"All of it," she said. "This. Existence. Life. All of it." She stood up, her Nirvana t shirt loose on her small frame. She dropped the cigarette to the cement in front of her and ground it out with the toe of her shoe.
"I can't do it anymore," she said. She turned and walked away. I didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything at all, and I watched her grow smaller and smaller until she slipped around a corner and was gone.