[“Excerpt from the forthcoming novel”]

Scribbled patterns in the frost on the car roof representing an inner lack of direction. Today or tonight, a long time ago, they had been talking about the aging process. Taking a cross section and seeing if they noticed any signs of weathering.

Monday looked at himself in the car window.  The glass was dark beneath the street light reflecting off it, clear as a mirror.  He thought, I’m looking rough as fuck.  Royally ruined.  What a state.  ‘I am the state.’ The mangled accent rumbled aloud from a ragged throat, followed by a cough. ‘This is what you get for exceeding your cigarette quota.’ A moment of tight lipped self-regard.  There was a click from up the path behind him.

‘Are you done then?’ Monday asked, charging his voice and expression with feigned impatience, turning.  They had been a pure age descending the three flights from the top floor, down the close and out into the frosty street where Monday’s breath hung heavy and sweet from the bottles of cider they had been necking.

‘Keep your neb on,’ Pamela said under her shoulder, standing by the door putting her keys in her clutch bag, lit up in the white light of the street lamp.  Neil had got down the path already and was handing Monday the business end of a fat joint.  The delay was explained.

‘Nice planning,’ said Monday, taking a toot.  Pamela said ‘Come on, we’re late’, and clocked off on heels working like ice picks in the thin covering of frost.