In the first months it danced with her daily – hourly – in every moment and breath – a twirling embarrassment of pain. Other people saw it too – some cut in and held her for a moment as she spun past. Others simply stood back and looked away and prayed that she would soon pass by. But then, in a swift sleight of hand, it let go her wrist and stepped a little to one side. She slammed against the nearest wall and sat up with bloodied nose and blurred vision.
After that she caught glimpses of it. In the half seen spaces around the edge of the day it shifted. Sometimes she thought it spoke, echoing back in mocking tones the last word of a conversation. And she smelled it – damp and growing – as she passed down the well-lit, empty corridors of the building.
She shook her damp hands under the ineffectual dryer in the staff toilets. There it was in the end cubicle – a little more shadow. She didn’t bother to go and investigate. Over months she had learned that to march in there, pull open the door and stare would be pointless. Like a floater in her eye it would shift, away to the edges and the corners again.
The quiet voice came from another cubicle – at the far end of the row.
“What do you want?”
She spun on her heel and slammed out of the toilets. As she strode down the corridor, something shifted in the leaves of the pot plant next to the water cooler.