Setting the Pace

With her left hand, she holds open a thick mass-market paperback. She is reading the last few paragraphs of the book. Everything, it seems, is wrapping up nicely – no loose ends. Without looking up from the book, she takes a long drag from the cigarette that she holds in her right hand. The ash perched precariously at the tip of the cigarette is as long as the unsmoked portion of the cigarette. When she finishes her drag, she exhales and feels around in front of her with her smoking hand. She locates the handlebars of her scooter and triggers the accelerator, gliding forward a few feet and then slowing to a stop when she retracts her hand from the scooter to have another puff. If she can keep the steering relatively straight, she can stay the course. She’ll finish the book before the sidewalk narrows, just beyond the end of the college building.

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