The day everything ended, she was standing in a parking lot, weary from a long day of departures and destinations, staring up at the sky. Clouds strolled west, their armfuls of grey dripping out of their grasp and spattering onto the asphalt, onto her upturned face. They rolled and crashed into one another, piling up high in the stratosphere like mountains of cottony stone. Once, they had been at war, and their arguments had sliced across the countryside with the recklessness of a summer fire. Now, though, something had calmed them. Perhaps they were tired from their travel like her, or perhaps it was the sun, gently wedging them apart with scalding fingers. Its light had almost gotten lost behind the celestial battle, but soon grey faded to white, white flashed gold, and the sun finally reached down to where she stood, there next to her father, on the last day he remembers before everything ended.
It was hard for her to imagine now, how she could have gotten lost so easily those first few days living here. Her life was consumed by white, narrow halls and the numbered doors that marked the way from her tiny guest room to the ICU. Go down the hall, take the stairs on the leftnot the right try not to slip on the cold tiled floor, drift by the stale promises and men with clipboards. Don't go out into the city; that was something else she had learned, the last time she tried to escape. Out there, the storm hadn't passed, not completely. It clung stubbornly to the air, cloyingly thick and hot in the July sun. When she breathed, the traces of the storm lined her lungs like leftover molasses in a jar. For one week, she waited for the sky to finally crack open and pour out the ocean. But she was always left waiting, and walking, and memorizing the twisted path between her father's room and her own.
The sky sagged onto the tops of the trees, shrouding their arms in folds of grey when once they had been feathered with the color of summer. The air had forgotten the taste of lilac, the touch of sparrows, the sound of crickets; it was dry and clean, pure and empty. A chill suffused its edges, convincing the sun to flit shyly just behind the mountaintops. Today, the grey of winter was impenetrable, but one day the sun would help the air remember what it had lost. One day, it would be summer again, but until then, she lay on the living room floor, soaking in the warmth of the fireplace and listening to the still-unfamiliar sound of her father's laughter. He sat in his favorite chair and squinted through off-kilter glasses at his new book about Yogi Berra. Every few minutes, he would flip back to the same page and read the quote there to her. "We're lost," he said between guffaws, "but we're making good time."